PETA protests circus at Knox Co. elementary school

PETA protests circus at Knox Co. elementary school

March 10, 2006

By MARK MOWBRAY
6 News Reporter

SOUTH KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- The group has staged protests outside KFC restaurants and criticized people for wearing fur. Now, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is taking on the circus outside Knoxville elementary schools.

PETA protesters brought their message to the Dogwood Elementary School yard Friday, hoping to educate the children and their parents about how circus animals are treated.

Ian Blessing, with PETA, says kids need to know because they're taken to the circus on field trips. "Many schools do, which is sad considering they're supposed to be educational field trips but there's nothing educational about showing kids elephants doing silly unnatural confusing tricks."

However, Dogwood Elementary Principal Donna Howard points out the school isn't planning a field trip to the circus and hasn't taken one in the past.

What administrators are concerned about are the parents' reactions to PETA. "Our parents are very aware, but basically they're not happy this is happening at Dogwood," Howard says.

Parents admit they are divided on whether or not to take their kids to the circus. But they agree the school yard is not the place for PETA's message.

"So they're targeting elementary school kids to complain about animal cruelty with the circus. I think it's a little bit extreme. They should be talking to Ringling Brothers," says one mother, Karen Blevins.

"I don't really have a problem with them doing it. I just wish they would do it somewhere else than targeting the elementary school," Amy Lieberman says.

"If they have an issue with the circus and the treatment of the animals, then they need to be doing this at the circus every night instead of coming to an elementary school," the principal says.

PETA alleges 24 elephants have been hurt or killed under Ringling Brothers' care. They say three of them were babies.

At Friday's protest, PETA passed out comic books depicting the conditions elephants are subjected to during their lives.

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