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As the circus comes to town, the end of an elephant era looms

May 03, 2019 11:12 PM

HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WHEC) — The circus is in town for maybe the last time before an elephant ban goes into effect.

Back in 2017, state officials banned elephants from entertainment acts because of allegations of animal abuse. Starting in October, all elephants will be banned from all entertainment acts in New York state.

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This weekend, Garden Brothers Circus will perform for the last time with the elephant before the ban starts. Dozens of people lined up at Bill Gray's Regional Iceplex in Henrietta for the end of an era.

Tina Jackson surprised her kids and grandkids with tickets to the circus. She says elephants are her favorite part, but she understands the ban. 

"The care of the elephants is obviously most important," Jackson said.

Circus trainers have long been accused of using inhumane methods to train elephants and other animals for shows. Ariel Valeiras, director of Garden Brothers Circus says the animals are taken care of.

"They're our babies so they come first, middle, and last all the time," Valeiras said. "We love our animals very much...they have our utmost and complete care and we will really miss them in the show."

Even without the elephants, Valeiras says the show will go on.

While crowds inside enjoyed the show, protestors gathered at the entrance of Bill Gray's Regional Iceplex. Tina Kolberg, president of Animal Rights Rochester, says she's happy with the elephant ban, but the fight isn't over.

"It's one step closer, but the other animals are in there too," Kolberg said.

New Jersey lawmakers just passed a bill banning all wild animals from circus acts.

The Garden Bros. Circus is in Rochester until May 5.

Credits

Kaci Jones

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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