Animal rights group pickets outside circus at Coliseum

Fletcher Babb

News Editor

Members of an animal rights advocacy group, Richmond Friends of Animals, gathered outside the Richmond Coliseum to protest the arrival of the Ringling Bros. Circus.

The members wore chains to symbolize alleged abuses against the circus animals.

Laura Wilson, the organizer of the protest, characterized the event’s message as simple, but direct.

The Richmond Friends of Animals consists of a group of volunteers.

According to Wilson, Ringling Brothers animals are routinely beaten, shocked and kept in enclosures for a long period of time.

“Elephants are kept in crates to travel up to 11 months out of the year. They’re chained up for 20 hours a day — we’ve heard of elephants being caged for up to 100 hours at a time.”

Wilson referred to a 2009 video released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that drew a minor media storm when it was released. The undercover video was backstage at a Ringling Bros. event and shows several stagehands smacking elephants on the head with rods.

“We’ve been out here the past three years,” she said. “And we’ll be here until the circus stops using animals as entertainment.”

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