Circus comes to town — and protesters, too

NORWALK Carson & Barnes set up the big top Tuesday at Huron County Fairgrounds, offering a circus teeming with acrobats, unicycles and animal performances. But not everyone was excited.
Sandusky Register Staff
Jul 20, 2010



Carson & Barnes set up the big top Tuesday at Huron County Fairgrounds, offering a circus teeming with acrobats, unicycles and animal performances.

But not everyone was excited.

Some visitors stood on the sidelines protesting the treatment of the show’s biggest performers — the elephants.

Norwalk resident Sherri Rodriguez and her daughters, Erin and Adrianna Rodriguez, passed out flyers and held signs reading “Boycott the circus” and “Their blood is on your hands.”  

“Every ticket you buy makes an elephant cry,” protesters chanted as cars parked. 

Some drivers shouted things at Rodriguez, while others drove by silently without looking.

Carson & Barnes is the oldest family-owned circus in the U.S. The company is billing its 2010 tour — its 74th year — as a continuation of a “great American family tradition.” 

The show brings guests face-to-face with world-renowned performers and exotic animals, and is currently making its way through Ohio.

But there are those who would like to see the show cut short. 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA — a national animal rights group — said more than 40 violations and abuse allegations have been filed against Carson & Barnes over the years.   

The alleged wrongdoings range from escaped animals to those receiving inadequate care, leading to sickness or death.  

PETA has also said the circus’ former animal care director was videotaped prodding elephants with metal bullhooks. Those same bullhooks are still used during shows.

“That’s why we’re here,” Rodriguez said. “You can’t form an opinion unless you know all the facts, and I’ve done my research. These animals shouldn’t be forced to perform and do things that are unnatural to them.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections in recent years showed no allegations of animal abuse or violations that resulted in fines for Carson & Barnes. 

Rodriguez, meanwhile, said she’s hoping the protests will have an impact on the circus and its visitors.

“We had one car that already turned around,” she said prior to Tuesday’s 4:30 show. “A lot of people have stopped to think about it. Even if they still go in today, at least they might stop and think about it the next time.”

Monroeville resident Joshua Ward stopped to talk to Rodriguez, his son Landon, 4, and daughter Ellie, 3, in tow.  

Ward immediately asked her for more information.

“I told my son prior to coming here that this may happen,” Ward said. “It’s good for (Rodriguez) to stick to what she believes in if she thinks this is what she needs to do.”

Ward said he had not researched Carson & Barnes prior to coming. He’s visited circuses in the past and saw nothing wrong with using animals as part of the show if they’re treated humanely.

“They’re part of the show; it wouldn’t be a circus without an elephant,” he said. “I’m still going, but if I see anything abusive, obviously I won’t stay. I don’t want to show my kids that.”

Other guests didn’t seem interested in elephants, and instead talked about enjoying other attractions.

“The best part was the guy that could fit himself in a box,” Hannah Presthee, 8, said with a laugh. “It was weird. He was so flexible and I didn’t think anybody would ever be able to do that.”

Val Raymond, of Norwalk, said her granddaughter enjoyed the elephants.

“My granddaughter got to ride an elephant at intermission and she was so excited,” Raymond said. “I didn’t see any instance of animal cruelty.”

On its website, Carson & Barnes said its animals are well-treated and it prides itself on the “level of care and the healthy environment (they) provide for all animal performers.”

Jaseen Pintado, a Carson & Barnes spokesman, said protesters like Rodriguez are common to circuses, regardless of animal treatment. 

And Carson & Barnes’ performance was not affected by the protesters, Pintado said.

“If anything, they help us and they make it better,” Pintado said. “We have a much larger attendance today than expected because more people read about us. Even if they say ‘don’t go,’ they still give the dates and people will end up going.”

About 800 people attended the first show in Norwalk, while Pintado projected even more spectators at the 7:30 p.m. show.  

He expects everyone will enjoy the show despite the negative attention.

“It’s been really successful so far and is going really well in Ohio,” Pintado said.

(Story by Alissa Widman, Special to the Register) 

Want to go?

What: Carson & Barnes circus

Show Times: 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. today at Sandusky County Fairgrounds, 901 Rawson Ave., Fremont

Cost: Tickets are buy one, get one free. Cost is $18 for adults; $10 for children



Seriously..   4 protesters??  4 people get an article like this??  Seriously SR??   LOLOLOLOL


HEY, lets not buy tickets and cause the animals to STARVE!! That makes sense! Or to cause the Circus to cut back on care, food, vet service, PETA should be called PITA, I don't see much differences.

I'm going to try to make it over there and buy a ticket so they can feed the animals. Every ticket you buy KEEPS THESE ANIMALS ALIVE, PETA are a bunch of misfits that can't think logically, I would bet my last dollar that these misquided fools havent helped one single family out that has starving kids at home. Did we see an article were they helped the dumpster guy? NOPE.  


People Eating Tasty Animals

Think I'll buy some Elephant Ears while there and think of the four kooks outside with their signs.



Now that it's over,

Carson & Barnes set up the big top Tuesday at Huron County Fairgrounds, offering a circus teeming with acrobats, unicycles and animal performances.

But not everyone was excited.

I would be very excited if they took a couple of Norwalks big shots with them?


Raoul Duke

The protestors probably went out for burgers afterward...


Jimmy Ego's got that right! That picture of Diana doesn't show any indication that she's a veggie and the Elephant looks well feed!

Gosh, such activists are really distorted in their reasoning process. Remember that one guy that made almost a billion dollars and had all these private jets and he was an activist to save the Seals from being killed for pelts? John Stossell asked him after finding out his wife and he wore leather shoes, belts and he and his wife had allegator billfolds and purses!  HIPPOcrates <pun>


Raoul Duke

I'm not opposed to protesting in general. But let's face it, the whole concept of domestication might be wrong. Just because your dog "seems" happy, you don't know if it really is. They always seem much happy outside to me. And every time a new construction project starts, wild animals are displaced from their homes and forced into a smaller area. You could protest endlessly, and ultimately, pointlessly.

I'd rather see people "supporting" positive things, like animal shelters and organizations like Back To The Wild. It's not like the circus will one day drop the elephant off in the middle of nowhere because they don't want it anymore...


who else wants to round out 3 people and protest something stupid?

yea right





6079 Smith W

Obviously the circus brings out all kinds of clowns.

Perhaps Ms. Rodriguez should have actually attended the circus and made an informed decision instead of relying on her biased out-dated opinions and beliefs.

She exposed her children to vehicle traffic in order to help spread her nonsense; could that be considered child endangerment or even abuse?


When the states stopped maintaining mental institutions, other organizations tried to take up some of the slack.  PETA is one of those organizations.  Keep the fruit cakes busy!!!


So I Googled "how to cook an elephant". Our web blocker here wouldn't let me read it, but i did garner it takes like 4 months to cook one all the way through.

If I get the chance tonight I will post up the whole recipe. Just in case one of these elephants gets discarded by the side of a road.

Would hate to see several tons of good meat go to waste.

Julie R.

I applaud this group!

Woody Hayes

Juliebeth R:

You would because you are just as wacked out as they are!


Where do you think elephant ears come from? HA HA



~ 1 Elephant, Medium size
~ 2 rabbits (optional)
~ gravy

Cut elephant into bite size pieces and cover with gravy.

Cook over kerosene fire for about 4 weeks at 465 degrees F.

This elephant serves 3,800 adults and 35 children.
If more are expected, two rabbits may be added.
Do this only if absolute necessary, as most people do not like to find a hare in their stew.


True story
While in college , a classmates told when he flew over to see his father who was a missionary in the early 1960's. The classmate and father went out for steaks and when they were set before them on the table each steak had two holes in them...............ELEPHANT TRUNK!

I loved the Elephant recipie, made me go back to that story.