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Ringling Unwelcome in Portland

September 8th, 2010 by Doll Stanley

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As anyone who has done protests will tell you, circus demos can be the most difficult. Parents are on guard because they’re with their kids. They’re out for a day of fun and are suddenly confronted with protesters, perhaps where they’d least expect protesters to be. What could be more wholesome than the circus?¬†Unfortunately, circuses with animals are far from wholesome. The animals who travel with these circuses are trucked or taken by train from city to city, spending the majority of their time in chains (elephants) or tight confinement (the other animals) when not being forced to perform completely unnatural and painful acts. So when we found out that Ringling Bros. Circus was heading to Portland for the Labor Day weekend, we were motivated to try and get as many compassionate folks out as we could to help educate Ringling’s patrons.

Ringling has a long history of animal abuse and neglect – everything from animal deaths to a list USDA violations a mile long. The most recent developments in Ringling’s long history of abuse are an undercover investigation¬† which showed Ringling beating elephants and other animals, and recently released, never before seen photos of Ringling abusing baby elephants.

Portland is a city of compassionate, animal-loving people. It’s a progressive town with no tolerance for abuse of any kind and this protest of circus animal abuse was certainly right in line with this city’s values. We mobilized through Facebook and e-mail and on opening night had the largest crowd ever at a circus demo in Portland – 80 people. It was inspiring. And we weren’t done there – all of the protests we held throughout the weekend were well attended – tripling the numbers of folks we had at last year’s demos.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to come out and help. Someone asked me on Sunday if I thought we were truly making a difference, and I responded that if we were absent, we certainly wouldn’t be, but I do believe these peaceful shows of force do make a difference and hopefully plant a seed of compassion in even the most hardened circus supporter.