The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals put on a display in downtown Des Moines today (Tuesday) to protest the upcoming visit of a circus. Katy Robertson, an actress from South Africa, posed semi-nude in front of a sign decrying cruelty to circus animals. Robertson (shown in above photo) had chains on her legs and arms and fake stripes placed on her bare back to simulate the whip marks trainers inflict on their animals. She says she “exposed a little skin to expose the cruelty to circus animals.” She says, “I’m proud of doing this, and it’s the most worthwhile thing I could be doing.” Robertson posed in front of a sign that says “circus animals are shackled, lonely and beaten.” She says she wants people to chose an “animal free circus.”
PETA spokesperson Christy Griffin (shown at left in above photo) joined Robertson holding a video player that showed scenes of some examples of elephants going on a rampage. She says the animals are confined in cages for 90-percent of their lives. Griffin says the animals don’t do tricks because they like them, she says they’re beaten and are doing the tricks because they’re afraid.
Most of those gathered in the downtown area for lunch said they understood the message — but had mixed opinions as to whether it would impact their desire to go to the circus. Wendi Wysong says she understands what PETA is saying. “I can see both sides of it really,” she says, “because animals also in a circus gets a point across that they’re part of our environment, and it really educates children, educates people.” She the animals in the circus help teach us about endangered species. Wysong says there does need to be attention paid to the treatment of animals. She says the people that’re running the circus should make sure the animals have a good environment and are treated well.
PETA’s Griffin believes their message is getting through. She says they have more hits to their website, circuses.com, than they ever have before. She also says circus attendance is going down every year. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus will be in Des Moines until early next month.