Minneapolis City Council clowning around

The circus may no longer be coming to town. An ordinance recently introduced by Minneapolis City Council members Ralph Remington and Cam Gordon would prohibit using wild animals in performances.

Remington argues that circuses regularly abuse the animals. "Tigers are deathly afraid of fire," he says. "When they're being made to jump through hoops of fire that does psychological damage to them."

The Ward Ten council member believes the measures is simply common sense. "It's the same as dogfighting, cockfighting, bullfighting, bear baiting, all of that," he says. "It's just wrong."

Apparently there's only one circus that regularly comes to town and utilizes animals, George Carden Circus International. The shows are sponsored by the local Shriner's chapter. In fact, members of the Zuhrah Shrine showed up at a city council hearing on the matter last week to voice their displeasure.

Remington, however, has little sympathy for them. "We've encouraged them to use animal-less circuses," he says. "They've had years to work on this."

The circus is safe for now. Last week's hearing was postponed owing to the bridge collapse. The city council will now discuss the ordinance on September 12.

UPDATE: Tim Davison, who sits on the Zuhrah Shrine's circus committee, just called to offer a different perspective on the proposed Minneapolis ordinance. He denies that circuses abuse animals. "This is an emotion driven issue," says Davison, a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department. "They don't want to be bothered with any facts or reality." Davison further posits that animal rights activists won't be satisfied with simply banning animal acts from circuses. "This is the camel's nose under the tent," he says. "Because they hate rodeos at least as much as they hate circuses." Davison also claims that the Zuhrah Shrine Circus, which is slated to be held at Target Center in October, is the city-owned venue's second biggest revenue maker. "I would bet that Ralph Remington has never been close enough to an elephant to smell one."

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