At least two cars arrived at the Huron County Fairgrounds for the Carson & Barnes Circus Tuesday. After their arrival, they turned away. And Norwalk Middle School seventh-grader Erin Rodriguez said she’s happy they did.
Erin, her sister Adrianna, their mother Sherri and family friend Brandi Ratliff said they informed the people in the car about what they feel goes on during and before a circus. Then, wearing disgusted looks, the would-be circus visitors left.
“It feels pretty good,” Erin said.
Sherri, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), has said she doesn’t feel Carson and Barnes’ staff treats the animals well — and her children apparently agree.
“It’s really sad how they treat the animals,” Erin said, adding they “electrocute” the elephants.
“We’re used to this” protesting Malcolm Knopf, Carson and Barnes marketing director, previously told the Reflector. “This happens all the time.
“PETA puts out all kinds of misinformation,” he added.
Knopf said PETA actually went so far as to have an undercover agent infiltrate the Carson and Barnes training facility and take snippets of video and then dub in sound over the video.
“Look, we’ve been in business for 75 years,” Knopf said. “You don’t stay in business that long by abusing animals.”
Knopf said Carson and Barnes’ circuses are constantly monitored by medical personnel, veterinarians and officials from the United States Department of Agriculture.
“We’ve never been cited for animal abuse as PETA claims,” he said.
But the Rodriguez girls claim recent pictures and videos back up their claim that the animals are mistreated.
Adrianna said a trainer in Florida used a bull hook to strike an elephant.
“You can clearly see him hit it,” she said. And while the elephant didn’t wince or shout in pain, Adrianna said it pulled its leg away.
“I think (the elephant) knew if he were to scream he would be in serious trouble,” she said.
Adrianna and Erin conceded they’ve been to a circus before and were entertained. But that was before they were informed about what they feel is mistreatment.
Outside the circus tent Tuesday, giant elephants moved freely beneath another tent, scooping up straw with their tusks.
Dogs moved freely as well inside the circus tent. They jumped through hooks and wagged their tails. They also rolled over and one walked on two feet.
A light, attentive crowd sat quietly except for clapping appreciatively at the tricks, which included a woman somersaulting on a long cloth dangling from a silver disco-like ball on top.
Editor’s note: Reflector Staff Writer Scott Seitz contributed to this article.