Dear Editor, 

The circus is coming to town! Sound fun? Not to the animals that Garden Brothers Circus is still exploiting. 

I was shocked to see that this circus is appearing at my shopping venue, Fair Oaks Mall, in April. And while other circuses are going forward to animal-free acts, this one is still exploiting animals like camels and ponies. This circus has a history including criminal charges, animal cruelty, and lawsuits. They have many customer complaints as well, earning them an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau. In a whistleblower report, a former employee reported to PETA that elephants were jabbed with a bullhook or shocked with a Taser. Plus a camel was beaten, punched, and kicked after a performance (with video proof of the audience hearing its cries). There’s a lengthy record of public-safety and animal-welfare violations ranging from neglect to outright abuse. 

The Berglund Center in Roanoke will not allow the circus to perform with camels, elephants, dogs, ponies, or any other animals. Unfortunately, Fairfax County still allows traveling animal acts with a permit. Additionally, Fair Oaks Mall hasn’t made the same assertion to protect animals.

If seeing tired, defeated camels giving countless kids rides on their backs late at night isn’t enough to convince you, all it takes is a quick Google or YouTube search to find reasons not to attend this circus until they choose to end animal acts and highlight human talent. Please show children (and the circus) that we respect animals more than that.

Jennifer Christiansen, Ed.S.

Centreville, VA

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