Students protest local circus

By In

By Emmy HinrichsWillow Parsons, McClain Houston and Megan Milla dress up to protest the circus.

Willow Parsons, McClain Houston and Megan Milla dress up
to protest the circus.

Leon is home to many animal lovers. And four Leon sophomores recently turned that love into a protest against animal cruelty.

McClain Houston, Megan Milla, Willow Parsons and Lucas Dwinell joined forces to take a stand against the Barnum & Bailey Ringling Circus, which was held at the Leon County Civic Center in early January.

The sophomores dressed up in costumes, including fake chains, and stood outside the civic center during the circus. Their faces marked with fake cuts, they held up signs expressing their concerns.

The four sophomores had one goal: “To inform people about what goes on [at the circus],” McClain said.

This is their second year protesting, and they plan to keep the tradition going.

Each student did extensive research on how animals are treated at the circus — and were horrified. For example, the students learned that bullhooks — metal rods with a hook on the end — are used to train the elephants. The animals are often hit in the ears and legs with the bullhooks.

“Sink that hook into ’em,” elephant trainer Tim Frisco can be heard saying on, a Web site about circus animal treatment. “When you hear that screaming, then you know you got their attention.”

Since 1990, four baby circus elephants have died. Most were euthanized after catching a disease or becoming completely exhausted from training.

The animals at the circus are constantly chained, instead of walking freely. Elephants are also chained while giving birth, and their babies are immediately taken away.

Research indicates that circus animals generally live only up to half of their estimated life span due to malnutrition.

“I think it is unfair to the animals,” Dwinell said.

He and the other students consider themselves peaceful but wanted to inform the public.

“People don’t want to see these animals hurt,” McClain said. “They love them.”

Because they could not all protest every night, they took turns with each showing.

Saving Animals Via Education (SAVE) also protested. A reporter from the Tallahassee Democrat evencame one night and interviewed the students. Talk about getting the word out.

For more information about animal abuse, go to Web sites such as and


Done with the circus

After watching a horrifying video and reading an article on the cruelty that circus elephants suffer, I will no longer go to the circus or let my children go.
I am actually grateful that someone would take the time to educate us on the terrible ways that elephants are trained. After seeing the elephants get brutally abused, I think there should be a law against it. I think it’s horrifying and I feel bad for all of those animals. I will never support circuses with animal acts ever again.
Maegan Beyer

  • Jamie
    January 27, 2009 at 1:34 PM

    i watched the video and it was horrible. what yall did was amazing and im glad this story is in here!!

  • Andy
    January 27, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    After watching a pretty disturbing video on what they do to control the animals, McClain is very right.

  • Janie
    January 27, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    Way to go McClain! This is a very informative article, and well written.

  • brody
    January 27, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    i watched the video in my journalism class and it showed graphic footage about what they do to the animals.I would have to say that abusing animals for entertainment is abssolutly wrong in many ways!!!

  • peter petrachi
    January 27, 2009 at 1:39 PM

    I agree with all of them, there should be more active people fighting against such cruelties

  • lina
    January 27, 2009 at 1:42 PM

    after i watch the video i was horrified. my sister used to hate going to the circus and now i know why. i hope people stop going to the circus so we can put a stop to this cruelty.. 😉

  • Taylor Seay
    January 27, 2009 at 1:43 PM

    I love McClain and how she fights for what she believes in. She’s an inspiration. 🙂

  • Cecelia
    January 27, 2009 at 1:44 PM

    very informative, its good to know that people are being educated on the cruelties that go on at circuses.

  • Taylor
    January 27, 2009 at 1:44 PM

    It’s great to know that Leon is accepting of students expressing their views.

  • Buzz Bryan
    January 27, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    I agree. This story touched many people. I watched the video and got sick to my stomach. Great job McClain!

  • amelia keaton
    January 27, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    I completely agree with there fight for animals. I saw a video of them hurting the animals and it was heart renching. I support you totally!

  • Allison Crolla
    January 27, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    GO THOSE 4 SOPHOMORES! I want to protest now, i saw everything i needed to see when coach record showed us videos. Now this article helped me understand who was running the whole protest. Next year when I’m a sophomore, I’m going to join the tradition.

  • Danielle Faulk
    January 27, 2009 at 1:50 PM

    I agree with what they are doing because we watched the video in journalism and the way they treated elephants was horrific. It’s good to hear about this and inform the student body about what is going on. It is also good to hear about our own students taking a stand.
    there should be more of these kinds of stories in the High Life.

  • Shaquan
    January 27, 2009 at 1:50 PM

    Great Job McClain!!!After i watched how bad they beat the animals just to get them to do something.

  • Maegan B.
    January 27, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    I agree with this article. And will never attend another circus in my life!!!!!!!!

  • Danielle
    January 27, 2009 at 1:51 PM

    Informing everyone about this was great. I’m an animal lover myself and agree that it’s very wrong to hurt an animal of any kind. That video almost made me cry. It really upseting to see what these people do to animals. Thanks for protecting the animals.

  • Bryanna
    February 18, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Thats ridiculous. After reading this and watching numerous videos thats crazy. I feel like there should be laws required for the treatment of performing animals.. Poor things.

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