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Animal rights activists protest circus act at WNC Ag Center

As many people made their way to the Garden Brothers Circus at the WNC Ag Center on Saturday, they were met by over a dozen animal rights activists who were protesting the use of live animals in the show. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

FLETCHER, N.C. (WLOS) — A circus act featuring elephants is in town for a series of shows, but not everyone is happy about it.

The Garden Brothers Circus is performing at the WNC Agricultural Center this weekend. As many people made their way to the show, they were met by over a dozen animal rights activists who were there protesting the use of live animals in the show.

Protesters handed out flyers that said animal abuse is not entertainment. Activists also held signs saying the circus hurts animals and asked people to Google "circus abuse."

Most of the demonstrators at Saturday's demonstration were from the Asheville Voice for Animals group. They say the animals in the circus never had a choice and that being caged, pronged, and shackled is not a life.

"They have an unending schedule where they are on the road day and night, transporting these animals in tractor trailers -- however they can get them from one location to the next," protester Lafayette Prescott said. "They never see the light of day. They never get a change to be with their families," said Lafayette Prescott with Asheville Voice for Animals.

"This is just a very cruel and barbaric form of entertainment. It's something that really belongs in the past," said Rosemary Thompson with Asheville Voice for Animals.

Despite the protest, inside the WNC AG Center was a packed house. Roderick Snipes has worked with the circus for four years. He said the animals are handled by people who care for them.

"The animals get regular checkups, they get daily maintenance and care. These animals are taken care of very well," said Snipes.

He said he understands circuses in the past may have mishandled their animals but say's they do not.

"Not in our circus because we just don't tolerate that sort of thing," said Snipes.

The City of Asheville has banned shows that use wild and exotic animals. Activists hope that surrounding areas and counties will follow suit.

"They understood what was happening with the circus and exotic animals. We would like to see it move over into the other counties, said Lafayette.

Asheville Voice for Animals will protest Sunday at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. right outside of the AG Center.Protesters handed out flyers that said animal abuse is not entertainment. Activists also held signs saying the circus hurts animals and asked people to Google "circus abuse."


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