NEWARK —The sponsor of a circus scheduled to come to Newark next month has canceled the shows after a city council member said he plans to sponsor a law banning circuses from the Licking County community, based on his opposition to animal abuse.
Councilman Mark Fraizer said Monday that he plans to introduce legislation within the next two weeks to ban exotic circus animals in the city, including elephants, tigers, lions and bears. He said his proposal, which the city law director is reviewing, is similar to a ban on circus animals that the Delaware City Council approved earlier this year.
“It’s a matter of public safety and animal cruelty,” Fraizer said. “They have a very low quality of life. I feel the council will support it.”
The Heath Moundbuilders Kiwanis Club had arranged to bring the Carson & Barnes Circus to Newark for six shows Aug. 4-6. Ticket sales were expected to raise up to $8,000 for distribution among the local Kiwanis Club’s charitable causes, including the Salvation Army and others, club Secretary Ed Ware said Monday.
The club decided reluctantly to cancel the circus, which was to be held on property leased by the Newark Area Soccer Association, after Fraizer announced at a June 26 council finance committee meeting that he plans to introduce legislation to outlaw circuses in the city.
“I felt like I’d been mugged,” Ware said. “Mr. Fraizer launched into a tirade. It was a big surprise to everybody that he brought it up.”
Ware said the Kiwanis Club and the Oklahoma-based circus decided it would be best to cancel before embarking on an advertising campaign to promote the shows. Although it’s not known if or when the proposed ordinance could be approved, the Kiwanis Club didn’t want to risk promoting shows that might face cancellation at the last minute if the council quickly approved a circus ban, Ware said.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has said that the Carson & Barnes Circus has a history of abusing its animals. Circus managers have denied any animals are abused.
Ware said the Kiwanis Club has sponsored the circus more than a dozen times over the years, most recently in 2014, and has had a good relationship with Carson & Barnes. He said the animals are treated well. Fraizer said he and his wife were among those protesting the Newark circus shows in 2014.
The Delaware City Council approved a law in February that bans wild and exotic animals in circuses. That law, thought to be the first in the state, effectively ends the traditional circus in the coliseum at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
The council acted after animal-welfare advocates gathered more than 1,000 signatures in opposition to Florida-based Circus Pages, which had planned a circus. The show didn’t go on last year because the circus filed late for a permit and city officials denied it.
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