Animal rights advocates protest Shrine circus

Animal rights advocates spent the weekend protesting outside the Shrine Circus at the RA Centre, saying the circus treats its animals- particularly its elephants- in a cruel manner.

Michelle Thorn, with the Ottawa Animal Defence League, says the show's two elephants, Shell and Marie, have been in captivity for most of their lives and are trained with what she calls "weapons," like hot pokers and sharp spears.

She says many people are ill-informed about the ways the elephants are treated while they're in the circus' care, and people leaving the circus say they're disturbed by the way the animals are treated during the performance.

"They tell us, yeah, they thought the animals looked pretty sad and that they won't go again," she said. "Some people are horrified when they come out.  A couple of kids yesterday told us they saw them whipping the horses in the face during the show."

She says she believes fewer and fewer people are attending animal circuses thanks to heightened awareness, pointing to the cancellation of several shows in the Ottawa area as an example of declining attendance.

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