By Jesse Wood
Alaina Doyle, a junior at Appalachian State University, organized a protest of the Garden Bros Circus coming to the Holmes Convocation Center this past weekend.
Doyle, along with more than a dozen other protesters, stood along King Street, the intersection of U.S. 321 and Rivers Street and in front of the Holmes Convocation Center on Sunday for a couple hours.
“I am opposed to ASU endorsing a company that owns elephants that spend most of their lives on the road, in small spaces and being threatened to do tricks with bullhooks,” Doyle said.
Doyle noted that just this past week, the Ringling Bros. agreed to eliminate elephants from its circus, effective 2018.
In addition to the protest, another Appalachian State student, Madalene Smith, president of App State Animal Welfare Club, started an online petition encouraging the university to not host the circus in the future. As of Monday, 1,338 people signed the petition.
The petition reads:
“The circus is an outdated and cruel source of entertainment. It is unbelievable that such a thing continues to exist in modern society. In most circuses, wild animals are stolen from their natural habitats, kept in cages and chains and “trained” to perform painful, tiring and unnatural tricks. Regardless of how circuses claim to treat their animals behind the scenes, a circus is a highly stressful and confusing environment for once wild animals. The bright lights, loud noises and pressure from trainers cause the animals anxiety. Human performers in the circus perform of their own free will and are paid to do so; the animals are the definition of slaves. No where in nature will you see an elephant balance on a bucket nor will you see a tiger jump through a flaming hoop.
Many believe Appalachian State University to be a progressive campus, please do not ruin this reputation or halt our progress by potentially allowing blatant animal cruelty to take place on campus.”
Doyle said that she created a Facebook event about the protest. Within a week, more than 500 people joined and more than 100 responded that would come to the protest. Doyle attributed the low turnout on the actual protest day to spring break.
Doyle said she contacted the director of the Holmes Convocation Center.
“He basically said, ‘Thanks for your concern. We didn’t know this would be controversial,’” Doyle said.
She said she wanted the university to release a statement stating that it would no longer host a circus.
“We still have yet to get any sort of response from the school,” Doyle said.