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Circus Elephants Cause Excitement for SD Shows

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The 141st edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has come to town, and it made quite an entrance yesterday as it paraded its eight Asian elephants from Old Town to the Valley View Casino Center.

Police officers stopped traffic early Wednesday morning along Washington Street, through Old Town and to Sports Arena Boulevard in order to allow the group of horses and elephants to pass through without harm. The animals originally arrived by train to San Diego but had to finish their journey with the two-mile trek as delighted passers-by watched the spectacle.

But not all was fun and games after the parade was finished. Animal rights activists are now urging the circus, which will be in town until Sunday, to pull one of its elephants from the show. The activists report that the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited the circus for failure to properly treat and diagnose the elephant’s illness.

“Our contention is that she is not sick and never has been,” Danielle Graham, the circus’ director of veterinarian services, said to The Union-Tribune. “We think that it is wrong to cite us over what basically is a difference of veterinarian opinions.”

In April, USDA inspectors noted Sarah, a 54-year-old Asian elephant, was suffering from a pus-like discharge when she urinated. Veterinarians for “The Greatest Show on Earth” admit that Sarah has had a chronic condition since 1997, but say it’s nothing serious, according to the U-T. They are appealing the citation, which alleges the circus violated the Animal Welfare Act.

Graham said all the right steps are being taken to ensure Sarah’s care and health, despite the USDA reporting otherwise.

“We do a really good job of taking care of the elephants,” she said.

Sarah, who has been a circus elephant for more than three decades, will still be performing this weekend.

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