You can't beat the circus -- but you can beat elephants, PETA charges

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is in town, kids! The first show of its Denver run gets underway at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Denver Colesium, with performances running through October 11. And as a special bonus, animal lovers who arrive early for tonight's spectacle will get a chance to see representatives from People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals and watch the video above, which shows elephants being whacked about the head prior to heading to the center ring. It's fun for the whole family!

Below, find PETA's description of the entertainment delights awaiting the masses.


Group Will Greet Circusgoers With Secretly Recorded Video of Trainers Who Struck and Whipped Animals

Denver -- As the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus prepares for its opening-night performance at the Denver Coliseum on Wednesday, PETA will protest by showing video footage from its 2009 undercover investigation of Ringling. In the footage, Ringling employees can be seen beating elephants with sharp, metal-tipped bullhooks and attacking tigers with whips. PETA is urging the public to boycott the circus:

Date: Wednesday, September 30

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Place: Outside the Denver Coliseum, 4600 Humboldt St. (near the intersection of 44th Street and MacFarland Drive), Denver

"Our investigation offers further proof of what we've long contended: Ringling regularly intimidates, beats, and whips elephants and tigers to make them perform tricks that are painful and confusing to them," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Such cruelty has no place in Denver, and we urge the public to take a stand against it."

Scenes caught on PETA's undercover tapes include the following:

• Eight employees--including a superintendent and a head trainer -- using bullhooks and other objects to strike elephants on the head, ears, and trunk

• Employees whipping elephants and a tiger, including on or near the face

• Employees yanking elephants by using the sharp steel barbs on bullhooks

One elephant, Tonka, being forced to perform night after night in spite of repeatedly exhibiting signs of severe psychological distress

PETA has also filed formal complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as prosecutors and law-enforcement officials in the seven states where the abuses took place.

Copies of PETA's complaints and broadcast-quality undercover video footage will be available. For more information, please visit PETA's Web site

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts