A long time tradition is making its way to Kingman, but not every resident is feeling festive.
The Garden Bros. circus is scheduled to perform three shows at the Mohave County Fairgrounds Saturday. The circus performs such popular acts as motorcycle daredevils, clowns and acrobatics. And while many residents are looking forward to the big event, some are protesting the circus’ inclusion of a few particular acts, the acts that involve the use of circus animals.
“When we saw all of the videos of the animals suffering, it was kind of a no brainer, we had to help,” said Lake Havasu resident Carolyn Long. “We couldn’t walk away from it.”
Protesting the use of animals for public display, especially circuses, is nothing new. In fact, there are numerous cities and counties across 23 states that currently have some kind of ban against these type of acts. Even Mohave County has taken steps toward possibly banning traveling circuses from performing in county limits.
In an April meeting of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors, the board voted 3-2 in favor of sending an ordinance to the county attorney’s office for review that would ban traveling circuses. However, many board members see the issue as something to be addressed at the state or federal level, not county.
“Supervisors asked the County Attorney’s office to look into an ordinance to ban the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling shows,” said Chairwoman Jean Bishop. “From what I have gleaned from my research, I believe any such law should be addressed on a Federal or at least the State level.”
Although Mohave County does not currently have an all-out ban of traveling circuses, the circuses are still required to apply and obtain a special use permit before they can set up shop.
“According to R12-4-402, a person shall not import, export, display, exhibit or possess any life wildlife in the state unless authorized by a federal license or permit or as allowed by state law or regulation,” Bishop said.
Beyond government action, several organizations have taken a stand against the use of animals in traveling circuses. One of these organizations, Keepers of the Wild, is currently working toward opening an expansion of a sanctuary for animals rescued from circuses and other entertainment uses. The new expansion is set to be located just 30 minutes west of Kingman.
“Instead of being able to act naturally, they (the animals) are forced to learn and perform acts that they would never do in the wild,” reads the Keepers of the Wild website. “Animals used for entertainment are subjected to rigorous and abusive training methods to force them to perform stressful, confusing and painful acts.”
Jonathan Kraft, the founder and executive director for Keepers of the Wild, is a strong advocate for the banning of circuses in Mohave County. In a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, Kraft said Mohave County should “set the example” when it comes to ending the suffering of circus animals.
The Garden Bros. circus has plans to make use of camels, ponies and elephants in their performances for Kingman. While the circus was asked for comment on the treatment of the animals, no response was given as of Sunday afternoon. However, flyers and advertisements for the circus read, “Last chance to see a circus with elephants live.”
The Kingman performance of the Garden Bros. circus is scheduled for July 1 with three different chances to see the performance: 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Long has provided a resource for those wishing to learn more about the supposed mistreatment of circus animals. This information can be found at the Animal Defenders International website: ad-international.org.
“You can always say that it isn’t real, but that doesn’t change anything,” Long said. “You need to be informed and know what’s happening.”