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PETA Protests The Universoul Circus For Poor Animal Welfare

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- PETA claims the Universoul Circus has a poor record when it comes to animal welfare. It's urging people to not buy tickets.

The Universoul Circus has arrived at the Security Square Mall, but not everyone is happy.

"Children would run kicking and screaming from circus tents if they knew animals were beaten and denied. Everything that is natural and important to them," said PETA campaigner Tricia Lebkuecher.

Activists with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA, staged a protest in downtown Baltimore Wednesday.

"Animals don't naturally jump through hoops and perform tricks. So when circuses use animals they force them to perform. They perform because they're afraid not to."

One demonstrator wore a zebra-style body-paint, to bring attention to the animals, who they say suffer in silence.

"I'm not supporting the circus and I know it's geared towards people like me and my community.  So I just want to bring that message out," said animal activist and demonstrator Nikki Ford.

Animal abuse claims have plagued the circus world for years. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey circus had its final show this month.

Protests led to the elimination of the elephant act, causing a drastic drop in ticket sales and an end to the Greatest Show on Earth.

"We saw a very sharp drop in attendance, much greater than we anticipated," said Juliette Feld of Feld Entertainment and Ringling Brothers last month.

Circus vendors are subject to strict animal welfare guidelines, but PETA claims the animals are hurt and overworked.

In a statement to WJZ, the Universoul Circus denies that claim saying it:

"believes that all animals are entitled to humane treatment and should never be mistreated or abused in any way. We care about the well being of each of the animals that travels with and performs in our shows."

PETA is calling on families to stop supporting any circus that still uses animals.

"It's not going to stop me-- my grand baby loves the circus. So she goes every year," said Linda Pendleton, who bought tickets to the show.

PETA is promising to protest, every night the circus is in town.  The Universoul Circus will be in Baltimore through June 18.

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