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Sarasota Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009 5 years ago

PETA protests at Southside Elementary

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by: Robin Roy City Editor

Parents didn’t seem to mind that animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals chose Southside Elementary School to hold a protest against Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus Wednesday.

“I think it’s great,” said Autumn Venafre.

A PETA employee in an elephant costume with a red-stained bandage on its head was meant to demonstrate the injuries sustained by the circus elephants.

As school let out, children ran up to the elephant to hug it and give it high-fives. PETA workers handed out stickers, coloring books and comic books that illustrated in terms kids can understand how elephants are captured by and treated at the circus

PETA said its undercover investigation showed circus workers hitting the elephants with bullhooks, which the group said forces the animals to perform tricks.

“Wild animals can’t be trained with positive reinforcement, so they have to be beaten,” said Amanda Fortino, PETA campaign coordinator.

Asked why the animal-rights group was protesting outside an elementary school, Fortino said kids are naturally compassionate, and they may not want to attend the circus if they know animals are being mistreated.

“We’re asking parents and kids and teachers to boycott the circus,” she said.

The school board called parents Tuesday night to tell them that PETA would be protesting at Southside.

“We knew about it and talked about it,” said Michael Klein, who was picking up his two children.

The protest comes three weeks before the Ringling Bros. circus comes to Sarasota.

Contact Robin Roy at rroy@yourobserver.com.
 

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