WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) —
If you drive down Lawrence Road in Wichita Falls, you may have seen this. A billboard warning families of alleged cruel circumstances animals can face in the circus, like The Garden Brother’s Circus coming to Wichita Falls this week.
“I know that once you’ve already planned a trip and you’re already here, it’s pretty hard to change your mind on the spot,” circus protester Jan Herzog said. “Some people do, but most people, even if they have questions in their mind at that point, they’re kind of in denial so they’re gonna go ahead and make the best of it.”
With free children’s tickets floating around the area months in advance, protesters said the circus is misleading these kids on what actually goes on.
“Sometimes people will take our brochures, go and huddle as a family for a few minutes, and then come back and say, “you know, we didn’t know any of this, we’re gonna go to a movie instead” and they’ll turn around and leave. That happens probably once or twice a performance.” Herzog said.
The Garden Brother’s Circus is run by Stellar Entertainment and the executive director said they do not abuse their animals, otherwise he could not support this organization, nor be involved.
“That’s how they’ve been raised and trained is with treats,” Executive Director of Stellar Entertainment Jim Davis said. “They do something to transfer to get them to do a trick, they get a treat. It’s not any kind of violence towards them. You’re not gonna get a 4000-pound animal to do a trick by hitting them, just the same as you’re not gonna get a three-pound dog to do a trick by hitting them. It’s just very common sense.”
While opinions may vary, Garden Brother’s Circus is looking to break the circus stereotypes.
“It’s sad that we have to continue to fight to keep on an American tradition. You know, granted, there’s bad organizations in anything, whether it’s childcare or car washes or roofing,” Davis said. “You know, but you can’t take one or two bad apples and clump them together and say everyone is rotten in that industry.”
The Garden Brother’s Circus will be in town Tuesday and although organizers said their animals are treated well, protesters will gather before each show begins to stand up for what they say is animal cruelty.