Circus 1, Teen Activist 0

Fifteen-year-old Heather Herman sits near a yard sign in east Denver, Friday, Aug. 6, 2004, promoting the initiative that she helped to spearhead to limit the use of exotic animals in circuses put on in the city of Denver. The initiative is on the primary election ballot on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2004.
AP
A proposal from a 15-year-old girl to bar exotic animal acts in circuses and other shows within the Denver city limits was soundly defeated Tuesday by a more than 2-to-1 margin.

CBS News Correspondent Bob McNamara that the animals are treated well."They get food every day, they don't have to worry about being poached, poisoned and all the things that go on in the wild," said Fahrenbruck.Tuesday night, with 95 percent of Denver's precincts reporting, 50,708 people, roughly 72 percent, voted no while 20,110, or 28 percent, voted to pass the measure."I think voters saw through the greater agenda of the animal rights activists and wanted to maintain their entertainment choice," said Kathryn Works, a campaign manager for the Keep the Circus in Denver Campaign. "The circus has been here in one form or another for 150 years."Dan Hanley of Denver for Cruelty Free Circuses says supporters are pleased with the results."Right now we're just reflecting on the fact that we brought the huge cruelty abuses from Ringling Bros. to the center," he said. "We think we've raised a huge awareness level that was a voice for the voiceless."The measure would have exempted the National Western Stock Show - Denver's livestock show - as well as the Denver Zoo and the Ocean Journey aquarium. Nearby Boulder and over two dozen other communities in the U.S. have barred performances involving exotic animals. If Tuesday's referendum had succeeded, Denver would have become the first major U.S. city to follow suit. The initiative prompted strong opposition from Feld Entertainment, which operates the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which has performed in Denver since 1919. The company pumped $175,000 into the Keep the Circus in Denver Committee, whose members include some city councilors and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, to oppose Herman.Herman pointed to the recent deaths of two Ringling circus animals as an example of why the initiative is needed.A lion traveling in a circus train in southern California died in mid-July. An independent necropsy was inconclusive, but other lions traveling in the same train were healthy, Feld officials said. An 8-month-old Asian elephant born to another circus elephant was euthanized earlier this month after fracturing both hind legs in a fall from a 19-inch-high pedestal used in a play yard for animals.Feld officials have argued that its circus animals are treated well and had invited Herman - who founded the group Youth Opposed to Animal Acts - to visit an animal training facility in Florida. She declined, saying she believed the company would show her only what it wanted her to see.

Rob Sanchez of the Save the Circus Foundation says he expects to fight a similar battle in the next election.

Herman and a few dozen volunteers raised about $50,000 from contributors including the U.S. Humane Society and earned an endorsement from wildlife biologist Jane Goodall.