Circus Protests Continue in Florida after Ringling Bros. Announce Closure

Jan 19, 2017

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be met with protests during its four day visit to Jacksonville, concluding Sunday.

The Circus announced this week the 2017 season will end its 146 years in the entertainment business. Ringling Bros. cited declining sales after the retirement of its elephants as a contributing factor in the closure.

WJCT’s Melissa Ross caught up with the first female ringmaster for Ringling Bros., Kristen Michelle Wilson, during Wednesday’s episode of First Coast Connect. Wilson responded to the allegations of the poor treatment of animals by the circus. She said: “The treatment of the animals is top notch. Twenty-four hour veterinary care and there is so much love, so much respect, such a bond between the veterinarians, the trainers and these animals.”

Adam Sugalski, executive director of the Jacksonville-based organization One Protest, said of Ringling Bros. closing its doors:  “A lot of this is happening because of people like myself across the country that have protested and kind of stood up against the circus.”

Animal rights advocacy groups have been protesting the circus’s alleged mistreatment of animals for years, which eventually led to the company's decision to end the traveling elephant show.

Even though the circus will be closing its doors, animal rights advocates still plan to protest the remaining shows.

“We still don’t think they should be let off the hook, even though they are quitting,” Sugalski said.         

One Protest will be demonstrating at all of the circus’ Jacksonville shows throughout the weekend. The organization will also protest the shows in Tampa.

Photo used under Creative Commons license.

Amy Hadden can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org.