A year ago, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey announced its July 2009 show in Anaheim, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced its pre-circus protest featuring a nude woman in a cage, and Ringling and PETA went on to hold their respective elephant-parade/caged-babe pre-show spectacles in the Disneyfied streets of Anaheim.
Well, here we go again.
(See this year's protest slideshow here.)
Barnum's FUNundrum!-- "featuring 130 performers from six continents around the world, almost 100,000 pounds of performing pachyderms, 13 athletes on a Russian bar, seven motorcycle riders in a Globe of Steel, and more clowns that you can see with two eyes"--comes to the Honda Center on July 28.
A date hasn't been announced yet, but a Ringling spokesperson says there will definitely be another elephant bath and parade through the streets of Anaheim to promote their really big show.
What has been announced is PETA's pre-game festivities, which are noon Friday--as in tomorrow--at the southeast corner of South Lemon Street and West Center Street Promenade in Anaheim.
That is where PETA member Meggan Anderson--"wearing nothing but shackles and covered in 'scars' from violent 'beatings' . . . which are an everyday reality for animals in circuses"--will be protesting Ringling's arrival.
"I'm here to expose what the circus is so desperate to hide from the public," says Anderson in a PETA announcement. "These animals have been beaten and deprived of their precious freedom for a lifetime of cheap tricks."
"Obviously this is something they've been doing for years," Amy McWethy, spokeswoman with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey parent company Feld Entertainment, tells the Weekly. "It's apparent no matter how sound and humane the treatment Ringling Bros. provides for the animals, activist groups like PETA will never be satsified."
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is a federally licensed traveling exhibitor open to inspections anytime by federal, state and locally authorized agencies, noted McWethy, adding, "They have never been found in violation of the Animal Welfare Act."
Staff veterinarians travel with all three Ringling Bros. touring units in the U.S., and vets are also on call in each city the circus visits, she said.
"The animals have better healthcare plans than most people in the U.S.," McWethy said. "That alone speaks volumes to the care and the details Ringling Bros. is going to to make sure the animals are cared for."
The spokeswoman invited anyone "to come see for themselves, truly look at the animals and how they interact with the trainers."
Naturally, the Weekly--with cameras in tow--will hold out for the elephant bath, just like we'll be out there for the nekkid lady, because that's just the kind of sick and twisted bastards we are.
However, while PETA knows that showing some human skin gets us page views, what the organization would really like to expose to the masses are "never-before-seen photos" viewable on its ringlingbeatsanimals.com website.
They were shot inside Ringling's Florida training center by a veteran elephant handler who later flipped.
"The photos expose how still-nursing baby elephants are captured rodeo-style and dragged away from their mothers," claims PETA. "The babies scream and struggle frantically as they are wrestled, stretched out, slammed to the ground, gouged with steel-tipped bullhooks, and shocked with electric prods. These abusive sessions go on for several hours a day for up to a year."
Ringling Bros. is aware of those photographs, especially considering the publicity they generated after the Washington Post published some of them last November.
"I can tell you those photos were given to PETA . . . from a former handler at Ringling Bros. who also worked at Ringling's Center for Elephant Conservation," McWethy said. "We don't deny their authenticity. We do question how they are characterized by PETA."
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She continued, "At no time are the animals, and elephants in particular, under any stress and discomformt from the training methods used."
McWethy concluded the chat by plugging Barnum's FUNundrum!, calling it "a really fun show on what makes the greatest show on earth the greatest."
If you are going to Anaheim engagement, make sure to arrive early for the "All Access Pre-Show," where you can meet the performers, get autographs and see an elephant paint.
Yet, to hear PETA tell it, you may not want to know how they taught the performing pachyderm to hold the brush.