A group of about 30 to 50 animal rights activists gathered outside Kay Yeager Coliseum to protest the opening night of the Maskat Shrine Circus on Tuesday afternoon.
The group is not protesting just the Shrine Circus but any type of event or show that may come to Wichita Falls who uses animals as part of their act saying the animals are being abused.
The group held signs depicting pictures of circus animals being abused and handed brochures out to people attending the circus.
Protest organizer Lara Matisek says there's rampant abuse of animals in circuses across the United States where animals can get injured or killed.
"What they see in the circus is not the full story," Matisek says. "Behind the scenes, there's a lot of abuse and cruelty. The only way animals that are wild like elephants and tigers and bears can be trained is through brutality and abuse and torture and that's the part the circus doesn't want you to know."
However, Shrine Circus officials disagree.
Larry Carden, elephant superintendent for Shrine Circus, says the animals are well taken care of.
"I've been around these animals my whole life," Carden says. "They're like my family. We love our animals just like people love their children."
However, Matisek encourage families to attend animal-free circuses that use humans as performers through acrobatics and stunts like Cirque du Soleil.
Even though protesters were outside Kay Yeager Coliseum, it didn't stop the Shrine Circus from bringing smiles to young children and the young at heart.
Carden says, "Every town we go to it's great. We get to meet new people every town. See the kids enjoyment while they're watching the animals perform and the performers in the air and on the ground."
He adds, "I don't care who you are. You'll find something here at the circus for the next two and a half hours that's going to light your face up."
There is still one more chance for you to attend the Maskat Shrine Circus on Wednesday night.
It will kick off with a pre-party at 6 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m.
The cost is $14 for a child's ticket, $18 for adults and $25 for VIP tickets.
For more information, call (800)697-7313.
Matisek says protesters will be out at on Wednesday as well.
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