Local activists protest circus at McKenzie Arena - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local activists protest circus at McKenzie Arena

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- The circus is in town, but not everyone is running to buy a ticket.

Thursday, a local animal activist group lined the street outside McKenzie Arena, hoping to detour ticket holders from seeing the show.

"We do pretty well here and people enjoy the show," says Jessica Clowers, with Ringling Brothers.

The circus is in town, and so are protestors.

"I'm probably a lot like the people that are going in the circus gates right now," Karen Lier says. "The only difference between them and me is that I know about the abuse and beatings that these animals have to go through in order to perform."

"We want people to understand what they are supporting when they buy a ticket," says Kathryn Dalenberg.

Protestors lined the street outside McKenzie Arena as the doors were opening on the first night of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey's Circus.

Chattanooga Against Ringling says the circus uses cruel training techniques and confines animals for long periods of time in inhumane conditions, claims the circus denies.

"They are part of our family," Clowers says. "We love them, and we give them the best care that we would give our own pets at home."

Jessica Clowers, a Ringling veterinary technician for 13 years, says animals are not shocked or beaten to perform.

She says they get 24 hour care, which includes plenty of time out of their crates.

"They get exercise," Clowers says.  "We also have practices, sometimes we just take them to the ring to have playtime, that's also for the dogs. So they get plenty of time outside their areas."

Still, protestors want Ringling to put on a show animal-free.

Clowers says that isn't likely.

"It's a tradition with Ringling Brothers," Clowers says. "For me, a circus is not a circus without elephants."

She says the show will go on, a show that includes time before the lights go down for visitors to mingle with the animals.

She hopes they'll form their own opinions instead of believing what they read on the way in.

"They can make their own judgment," says Clowers.

Protestors plan to return on Saturday for what they say will be another "peaceful and educational demonstration."

The circus is in town through Sunday.

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