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PETA protests elephant treatment at circus coming to Pa.

September 14, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The circus is coming to town next week, but the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is ahead of the wagon.

PETA faxed a letter to the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, asking them to enact legislation to prohibit steel-tipped bullhooks, electric prods and other devices used on elephants.

The supervisors have a work session scheduled for Tuesday, but the process to enact legislation typically takes months, Township Manager Ben Thomas said.

"We understand that the legislative process takes a while," PETA Captive Exotic Animals Specialist Lisa Wathne said. The letter was sent after the Carson & Barnes Family Circus schedule was posted, she said.

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PETA hopes any action by the supervisors will affect future visits, Wathne said.

A spokeswoman for Carson & Barnes said it has repeatedly run into problems with PETA. She referred calls to the media relations manager on the tour, and he did not return messages.

The Greencastle performances are scheduled for 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the American Legion grounds on Williamson Road.

The public is invited to watch the elephants set up the tents in the morning, according to a Carson & Barnes press release. The circus, in a statement on its Web site, argues that the elephants have a relationship with their handlers, who use positive reinforcement.

"You'll see when they come to town that all their elephant handlers have a bullhook in their hands," Wathne said.

PETA had originally taken its circus campaign to business sponsors and venues, but it is now focusing on legislators, she said.

"PETA has had a very active circus campaign for years," Wathne said.

Members will be made aware of the Greencastle performances, so they can choose whether to protest, she said.

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