A local group of animal-rights protesters are hoping for a strong showing Saturday to speak out against the Jordan World Circus at La Plata County Fairgrounds.
The Jordan World Circus, presented by the San Juan Basin Shrine Club and Jean-Pierre Bakery, will hold performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., featuring the use of elephants, tigers and “mix animals,” which can include camels and horses.
Anthony Nocella, assistant professor at Fort Lewis College and community activist, said the local group “Durango Animal Liberation” will start protesting at 1:30 p.m. outside the fairgrounds.
“We’re protesting the use of non-human animals for entertainment,” he said. “For a place like Durango where we love wildlife as well as nature, this is not a place to embrace the exploitation of wild animals or animals period.”
Representatives with the Jordan World Circus did not return calls Thursday seeking comment. A brochure for the event says circus animals are treated well and are usually not taken from the wild.
“Don’t let animal rights militants ... spoil your day at the circus,” the brochure says. “Circus animals enjoy longer and have more productive lives ... than most other trained and performing animals or animals in the wild.”
Recent circus performances across the country, including those conducted by the Jordan World Circus, have drawn similar protests from anti-cruelty activists.
“A lot of the tricks are forced onto these animals through fear, as well as training tools, which are anything from prongs, sticks to electrical devices,” Nocella said.
The Jordan World Circus placed No. 8 on the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, “Top 8 Worst Circuses,” citing an instance where the circus allegedly waited a month to treat an injured tiger, and left animals in cages for up to 11 days without exercise.
Circuses, and their treatment of animals in acts, have increasingly come under scrutiny in recent years.
On May 21, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, once known as the “Greatest Show on Earth,” closed after 146 years in operation because of weak attendance and high operating costs.
The fall of the circus world’s largest giant is a direct reflection of the public’s distaste for exploiting animals for entertainment, Nocella said.
“They’re losing profits and people are not going to that form of entertainment,” he said.
Nocella said protesters plan to stay on sidewalks, which does not require a permit from the city.
He said the Durango Animal Liberation group also plans to protest Durango’s long-running Fiesta Days, which runs from July 22 to July 30 and uses animals for rodeo events.