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Protest planned on opening night of circus at Staples Center

July 11, 2012 | 11:24 am

Circus protest planned at Staples Center
The circus — and some protesters — are coming to town.

Animal rights activists have planned a protest at Staples Center on Wednesday, the opening night of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's weeklong appearance at the venue.

Catherine Doyle, director of the In Defense of Animals' Elephant Campaign, said organizers are hoping for a turnout of at least 500 protesters, the same size crowd that attended last year's demonstration. Other protests are planned throughout the week, she said.

Protesters will meet at Staples Center to "bring attention to the fact that circuses are inherently cruel to wild animals," she said. Circuses transport animals in cramped cages, she said, separate them from their families and train them to perform tricks that aren't natural to their behavior.

"Treating wild animals like this is wrong," Doyle said.

Stephen Payne, vice president of corporate communications at Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, said it was "unfortunate" protesters had decided to come to Staples Center.

"I can't speak to other circuses, but I know at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, we have a dedicated team of men and women who spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week taking care of our animals," he said. "We have a group of veterinarians with decades of experience. ... If people come to the circus they can see first-hand how the animals are doing well in our care."

The show opens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and runs through Tuesday.
— Kate Mather

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Photo: Several hundred demonstrators gathered in front of Staples Center in 2010 to protest the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Credit: John W. Adkisson / Los Angeles Times