Carson & Barnes Circus was under immense fire after animal rights group PETA urged city officials to cancel the circus last month.
Carson & Barnes Circus rolled through Palos Hills last month despite an uproar from animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleging that circus animals are being abused during training sessions.
Carson & Barnes was criticized for a 15-year-old video posted by PETA that featured an elephant trainer abusing one of the circus’s many elephants during a private training session. The video is published on PETA’s website and is used to persuade city officials to cancel negotiations with Carson & Barnes Circus.
Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett said he has no recollection of the circus abusing its animals and in the six years the circus has come to Palos Hills there have been no reports of animal abuse. Carson & Barnes held its shows for three nights in Palos Hills in August without incident.
Despite the incident-free shows performed by Carson & Barnes reports have spread that city officials will pull the plug on Carson & Barnes for next year.
Claudia Pasek, of Palos Hills, spoke during last Thursday’s city council meeting and urged elected officials to reconsider canceling the circus for next year. Pasek and her husband Palos Hills, Alderman AJ Pasek, have both attended the Carson & Barnes Circus and have found no wrongdoing.
“There has been a lot of push back about the circus from the PETA organization and I think PETA is a very good organization that has raised a lot of awareness for animal abuse but I don’t think they’ve ever been to the circus,” Pasek said.
PETA has alleged that abuse is the only way to get circus animals to perform painful and unnatural tricks. Pasek referenced the Carson & Barnes website for elephant training and how the circus has donated funds to benefit Asian elephants.
“This circus is 80 percent people acts and these people are awesome, they are like Cirque du Soleil or like the people you see in Vegas and they are incredibly talented people,” Pasek said. “They’re doing most of the work and the animals are there for 20 percent of the time.”
PETA posted on Facebook that the Carson & Barnes performers are trashy who beat and exploit animals, Pasek said.
“Everything there is inexpensive and family-orientated and that is why there are so many people there from Worth, Hickory Hills, Palos Hills, Tinley Park and Orland Park,” she said. “I want to emphasize that the circus is mostly extremely talented people and the animals are not exploited during the circus act.”