WILKES-BARRE — The 69th annual Irem Shrine Circus kicked off Monday at the 109th Field Artillery Armory and as it does every year, it attracted a group who protested the use of animals.
Silvie Pomicter, president of Voice of the Animals, was among about 15 protesters who lined the sidewalks in front of the Armory. She charged animals are abused to do tricks and she complained they are carted all around the country.
“Lions and tigers don’t jump through flaming hoops of fire in the wild,” Pomicter said. “We think it’s a disgrace to nature to take these beautiful, majestic animals who belong in the wild with their families to entertain us.”
Despite the protest and the closing of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus last year after 146 years in operation, that did not stop crowds from coming to the Irem Shrine Circus, and circus representatives said attendance has been up.
T.J. Howell, a unicyclist and juggler, said he has performed with the circus all over and at a show last week in St. Louis, Missouri, attendance was up 20 percent.
“Attendance has been up at every show that we’ve done,” he said.
He said the closing of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus may have helped boost attendance because people