Darien, Connecticut — Two animal rights organizations in Connecticut, both Friends of Animals (FoA) and Animal Rights Front (ARF) have urged the public to protest the abuse and exploitation of animals in the Ringling Bros., and Barnum & Bailey Circus by joining their demonstration for the opening performance, and refusing to buy a ticket to any Ringling Bros.circus event.

The demonstration is scheduled to being at 6:30 pm on Wed., Oct. 23, at the Bridgeport Arena at Harbor Yard — one hour before Ringling’s opening show. Among the animals Ringling will bring to Bridgeport are elephants, tigers, camels, zebras, llamas, and horses.

“Circuses with animal acts rob animals of the respect and dignity they deserve, and brainwash the audience to view commercial exploitation as entertainment,” says Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “These animals perform because they fear brutalization if they don’t obey; they’re forced into submission. For example, trainers regularly jab sharp metal hooks into sensitive areas of an elephant’s head and trunk,” Feral adds.

“Wild animals have a natural desire to roam great distances. Constant confinement creates tremendous stress and anxiety for them. Elephants, big cats, zebras, and other wildlife belong in the wild. Their physical, psychological and social needs are not met in captivity.”

“In the wild, male elephants stay with their mothers through adolescence and females usually remain with their mothers for their entire lives. On its Web site, Ringling admits to separating young elephants from their mothers when they are only two years old.”

FoA says an informed public is becoming increasingly resistant to accepting circuses with animal acts. The list of towns that have prohibited wild animal circus acts includes Stamford, Conn.; Hollywood and Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.; Boulder, Colo.; Pasadena and Corona Calif.; Takoma Park, Md.; Quincy, Braintree, Revere and Weymouth, Mass.; Redmond, Wash.; and Greenburgh, NY.

FoA’s international projects strive to protect elephants in their African homelands by providing broad-spectrum support for anti-poaching units in 14 African states. FoA has delivered airplanes, training, vehicles, radios and much other needed equipment to stop ivory poaching in Africa.

In early November 2002, CITES, the convention that oversees the U.N.- sponsored endangered species treaty, will meet in Santiago, Chile, whereby proposals are being considered to open some legal trade in elephant ivory. FoA will stress — especially to the U.S. delegation — that the 1989 ban on trade in ivory which FoA authored must be retained in tact. FoA has compiled an Animal-Free Circus Directory available at www.friendsofanimals.org to assist civic organizations in choosing animal-free fundraising events.