Corner Brook -
The circus is coming to town, but some Corner Brook residents won't be extending a warm welcome to the show.
Cirque Estival has already experienced opposition to its events involving live exotic animals and has had to forego visiting some venues in Newfoundland and Labrador this year.
The show scheduled for the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook June 19 is still a go, as are shows in Stephenville June 17 and Deer Lake June 18.
Nola Roberts of Corner Brook is among a group of residents who intend to hold a protest outside the stadium when the circus comes to Corner Brook.
"This will be a protest against animal cruelty, especially animals in the circus," Roberts said. "Anyone who is interested can join us."
There were more than 1,200 people registered in a Facebook group "Boycott the Cirque Estival in NL" as of Wednesday, while Roberts said there were 173 members in a group dedicated to the Corner Brook protest, "Boycott Corner Brook Circus June 19, 2010."
"Most of them are from the local area," said Roberts. "We're expecting a good crowd."
With the circus scheduled to start at 7 p.m., the protest will begin around 6 p.m. The day before, interested protesters will gather at Roberts' home to prepare banners, signs and T-shirts for the protest. She can be contacted through the Facebook group.
Some municipalities, including St. John's and Grand Falls-Windsor, have prohibited the circus from coming to their towns. Others, including Marystown and Gander, are permitting the show to go on, but have recently introduced bylaws which in future will ban circuses involving live animals for human entertainment.
On its website, Cirque Estival has a section dedicated to its commitment to treating its animal performers ethically. The Quebec-based circus tours with animals throughout Eastern Canada for 10 weeks of the year and all of its animals and trainers come from the Bowmanville Zoo in Ontario. That zoo is a member of the Canadian Association of Zoos, a not-for-profit service which the website says enforces international standards and ensures proper care for the animals.
"You can be assured that our animals are scrupulously cared for by the Bowmanville Zoo veterinarian," the site says. "Before touring, our veterinarian gives us an up-to-date health report, as well as a list of various accredited veterinarians on our tour route, in case of disease or ill-being that may occur to the animals."
Cirque Estival is the same company which had one of its trucks carrying animals involved in an accident on the Northern Peninsula in 2008. The animals - an elephant and two camels - were not seriously hurt in the mishap and became quite an attraction as they spent two days stranded in Daniel's Harbour awaiting another vehicle to come pick them up.
In return for the town's generosity, the circus donated $4,000 toward the cost of a new playground the town was planning.