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The circus -- and the protesters -- come to town tonight

July 16, 2008 |  1:27 pm

The_circus_comes_to_town Hard to tell which will put on the bigger show -- the 138th edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, opening at Staples Center tonight, or animal rights groups, including PETA, taking aim at one of their prime targets.

PETA got a head start earlier this week with it's "naked lady in a cage" stunt, the LA Weekly reports:

Twenty-five-year-old Erin Armstrong crouched in a small wire cage in front of the Gap, a look of fearful vulnerability written on her face. She was naked — or very close to naked — her body covered by a deep orange pigment and striped to resemble a tiger. Drawn-on whiskers and fabric tiger “ears” completed the look.

“Joe, why is she all naked?” scowled one fanny pack–toting grandmother.

“I don’t know,” scowled Joe back, and the two sauntered away, casting quick frowns over their shoulders at Armstrong, who was finishing up an interview with a KFWB radio reporter.

Last Chance for Animals is also getting into the act, as is Born Free, and there's a post on IndyMedia. The circus, for its part, is getting plenty of publicity from local media. The Times has a story, as do the Daily News, CBS 2, Angelenic and, well, you get the picture.

-- Veronique de Turenne