Earlier this year Ringling Brothers announced their circus will be shutting down in May. Families visiting the Tigris Shrine Show at the Fairgrounds say it’s bittersweet, knowing the type of circus they grew up with is about to change.
It’s been awhile since Melinda Burdick has been to the circus.
“I went when I was a child,” she says.
But now, she wants to share it with her family.
“Just the adventures of the elephants, seeing them do their tricks, and things like that,” said Burdick.
That love of the animals is something organizers say they hear about a lot.
“It’s the power, the roar, the strength of the elephants,” said Robert Valenson, Tigris Shrine Circus.
But not everyone is a fan; protestors outside of the fairgrounds met families with a less than amicable welcome.
“Elephants, tigers, and other animals are subjected to routine physical and psychological abuse,” said Amber Canavan, protestor.
Something they say families have no idea about.
“If these children knew the abuse that these animals were going through, they would never let their parents bring them to the circus,” said Canavan.
Workers with the Tigris Shrine Circus say the allegations are just plain false; insisting their animals are well taken care of. But, the pressure is clear; last year, Ringling Brothers retired their elephants in response to protests, his year, they’re taking down the big top entirely.
Organizers with Tigris know their show will also have to adjust.
“I think that the circus is going to change fundamentally. I think that there’s enough stuff out there to try to push some of the acts out of the shows. The animal acts will just have to change in time,” said Gary Damon.
Making way for new acts.
“There’ll be a lot more acrobatic, other skilled acts,” said Damon.
Some new acts that will bring new life to the circus for the next generation.
If you want to see the circus, you still have two more chances, Sunday at 1 and 5 pm.