Circus coming to Vernon despite controversy

Circus to perform despite concerns from Vancouver Humane Society

A circus is being defended just before it rolls into Vernon.

Florida-based Garden Bros. Circus will perform at Kal Tire Place Friday, although the Vancouver Humane Society is calling for the show to be cancelled.

“This event is a rental and is paying the private sponsored entertainment rate,” said Doug Ross, the City of Vernon’s recreation services manager.

Besides Vernon, the circus will be in Kamloops and Chilliwack.

“VHS says it is asking each of the venues to cancel the circus’s appearance. Although the circus will apparently only feature dogs and ponies on its B.C. tour, it has faced past allegations of mistreatment of elephants and other animals in the United States,” states a release from the Vancouver Humane Society.

In September, the circus’s performance in Winnipeg was shut down for apparent safety concerns.

“Clearly, this circus has a record that should ring alarm bells with the venues where it is scheduled to appear,” said Peter Fricker, VHS spokesperson. “All of its performances should be cancelled.”

Ross insists the city did its due diligence when the circus was booked.

“When we were contacted about the possibility to rent the arena for the circus, staff inquired about the content of the show and were assured that no elephants or exotic animals were featured in the show,” he said.

“Staff checked on the feedback from the Winnipeg show and determined that it appeared the problems that caused the cancellation of the show were related to damage done to the tent by a storm and conditions of the grounds from the extremely wet weather. As the Vernon performance will be indoors in the arena, those conditions will not exist.”

Ross added that, “Staff also inquired with other indoor venues where the show has been held and the feedback was that the animals appeared to be in good shape, there were no safety issues during the shows and that they would host the rental again in the future.”

Officials with Garden Bros. Circus insist they contract with reputable licensed animal acts to tour with the circus.

“As required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, all of the animals are inspected and checked by a licensed veterinarian every month to insure their well being and welfare are kept to the highest standards,” said Jim Davis, director of booking.

“If at any time the vet finds anything out of the ordinary or medical issue it is immediately reported to the USDA. We have had clear reports and no issues.”

Davis added that animal rights groups have been invited to visit where the animals are housed and it’s not been accepted.

“The American Circus is the oldest form of live entertainment that brings families together to enjoy the majesty and intelligence of the performing animals along with human entertainment.”

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