Lions and tigers and bullhooks, oh my!

Ringling Bros. and  Barnum & Bailey Circus

Protesters gathered outside the Covelli Centre on Friday to protest the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Photo by Justin Carissimo/The Jambar.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performed eight shows at the Covelli Centre over the weekend. But before each performance, animal rights activists voiced their concerns outside of the arena.

An hour before each show, supporters of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, passed out fliers, posters and coloring books with the intention of informing attendees about their point of view.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is known for using a variety of animals in their acts, including elephants, tigers, lions and horses. Krista Pirock, a freshman at Youngstown State University, has been protesting the circus for three years.

Pirock said elephants shouldn’t be trained to entertain.

“We just want to put the information out,” she said. “I just want people to stop. There’s so many other things they can do for entertainment. I’d rather see Cirque du Soleil.”

Andrea Rober, a former YSU student, attended the circus with her boyfriend and his two children. Rober said she doesn’t think the circus mistreats animals.

“It takes a lot of training to get those animals to do they stuff they do. I feel like it’s training a family pet to do tricks or even training them to go potty outside,” she said. “You punish them if they do something wrong, so how does the circus mistreat their animals if we do the same thing to our family pets?”

Julie Plesich, a graduate student at YSU, said she disagrees and thinks the public can find better ways to spend their dollars. Plesich tried contacting the circus, but was unsuccessful.

“We’re all feeling, sentient beings. Just like a human mother, an animal mother doesn’t want to be separated from their young. We shouldn’t exploit them for entertainment purposes,” she said.

Representatives from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus could not be reached for comment.