Circus reform in Southwest? Group pushes for ban

Conventional wisdom says that circuses are family fun for children of all ages. Members of Circus Reform Yes! (CRY) are trying to change that predictable perception of the traveling shows with a photo exhibit at Washburn Library detailing circus animal abuse.

The exhibit runs through mid-March, focusing on elephants both behind-the-scenes in circuses and in the wild. Admission to see the show is free.

Armatage residents Eileen Adamec and her husband Karl Adamec, veteran animal rights activists, formed CRY four years ago. They have regular meetings with about 20 core CRY members; they've also garnered support from thousands for various petitions and other initiatives regarding animal abuse in the entertainment industry.

Members of CRY say that the cruel treatment of elephants and other animals in the circus create potential dangers to trainers and audience members during performances.

The photo exhibit at Washburn, 5244 Lyndale Ave. S., features elephants because people think of the animals as &#8220family-oriented and sensitive,” said Adamec.

The show promotes the group's efforts with lawmakers for a bill banning circuses from using sharp &#8220bell hooks” to train animals for performances. That would exclude most circuses using animals, Eileen Adamec said, because bell hooks are an industry standard.

The proposed law would impact Minneapolis at least once a year; at least one circus visiting annually uses the hooks.

&#8220The time has long passed where there's this mentality to support this kind of abuse,” she said. &#8220All of the experts say that the circus is a horrible place for [animals] to be.”

She said that CRY members hope that both Minneapolis and St. Paul will adopt the legislation. Many other U.S. cities already have laws in place that take steps beyond the bill, banning wild or exotic animal displays.

Statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture show that 28 people nationwide were killed in circus incidents between 1983 and 2000. No accidents have been reported in Minneapolis, although there have been animal-related injuries in Bloomington and Duluth.

&#8220One of the reasons to do this is that Minneapolis is one of the most progressive cities in the nation. Most bans are in California, but Minneapolis can also be a trendsetter,” said Eileen Adamec.

For further information about CRY, check out www.crymn.org.