Protesters from the Animal Defenders of Yuma, a local animal welfare organization, will be at the Yuma County Fairgrounds on Thursday for their fifth annual circus protest.

According to ADY, the protest will be a peaceful demonstration to educate circus attendees and the community on the abuse of circus animals.

“Circus animals suffer from many different types of abuse and neglect,” the organization stated. “Undercover videos have repeatedly recorded trainers routinely beating animals. Animals are forced to spend much of their lives in small traveling cages, perform unnatural stunts and tricks, and often receive poor veterinary care.”

The circus coming to Yuma this year is the Jordan World Circus, hosted by the El Zaribah Shrine as a fundraiser. The protest is scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. before the start of the circus performance, and the public is invited to participate.

“The Shriners are a wonderful organization, and our local chapter has done many good things for our community, but it is important for the Shriners to realize the abuse and cruelty suffered by circus animal performers,” said Nisa Bottone-Sutton, ADY spokeswoman. “While circus fundraisers were more common in the past, many organizations have stopped using them after recognizing the abuse involved, and it is time for the Shriners to do so as well. There are so many better alternatives for fundraisers.”

Over the past five years, according to Bottone-Sutton, “We have watched as the Jordan World Circus has forced bears, elephants and tigers to perform ridiculous stunts for the entertainment of their audience. We have witnessed animals left in the hot September sun with no shade or water, a bear left panting in a hot trailer and a thirsty elephant reaching for her trainer's personal drink. And we have watched elephants fitted with hot, heavy, plastic-coated blankets and forced to give children rides despite the intense Yuma heat.”

Visit www.yumacircus.com or ADY's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/yumacircus for more information about circus animal abuse and about ADY.

Sarah Womer can be reached at swomer@yumasun.com or 539-6858.

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