The Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circus is in town through Monday at US Airways Center. And where the circus goes, animal activists aren't far behind.
A handful of members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gathered outside the arena to urge people to boycott the circus. PETA claims elephants, in particular, are wrestled and slammed to the ground, shackled on hard concrete for much of the day, and disciplined with bull hooks. PETA's Matt Bruce added that young elephants are separated from their parents at an early age.
PETA displayed a life-size model of a small elephant with a banner that read, "Step Right Up! Shackles, Bull hooks, and Loneliness at the Circus!"
But a senior elephant handler with the circus denied PETA's claims, insisting the animals are treated well. Joey Frisco said, "The elephants are treated with the best of care here at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey. And it's not just the elephants, it's all of our animals. We take the best care – the best veterinary care, the best food, the best everything."