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Traveling Circus Protest Planned by Animal Rights Activists

Sedona AZ – The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus performances at the Camp Verde Community Center Field, Camp Verde, on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, will be met with planned protests from local Verde Valley community members. According to organizers, protestors will meet at the site at 4:15 p.m., preceding the 5:00 p.m. show and again at 6:45 p.m., preceding the 7:30 p.m. show.

The Camp Verde Parks and Recreation department is co-sponsoring this popular community event. The traveling circus will be in Black Canyon City, Wilcox and Oracle prior to set up in Camp Verde. Visit its website at CMcircus.com for a list of other planned circus performances.

“These small traveling circuses are troubling,” said Karen Melillo , Camp Verde protest organizer. “When animals are brought into the mix, it is no longer a show that provides entertainment and wonder, but rather a show that has cruelty and neglect at its root. This circus has had numerous violations since 1991. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited them dozens of times. They have a history of neglecting to provide the animals with adequate veterinary care, food, space, and shelter.”

A USDA report states “Federal inspectors found Culpepper & Merriweather had put people at risk by keeping large, dangerous animals in cages that lacked the strength to stop them from getting out and harming the audience.” Over the years, it has had elephants on the loose in small-town Kansas, camels sneaking out of their enclosures to graze, and farm animals joining a pair of elephants for a jaunt in California.

The circus travels with a variety of acts, several of which include animals; dogs, ponies, a lion named Frances, and two tigers named Delilah and Solomon. The animals may perform in over 300 traveling shows per year.

The Culpepper & Merriweather’s Circus has been taken to court on several occasions. In 2011, a judge suspended its license for six months after she found the circus “willfully failed” to develop a plan for veterinary care, didn’t provide proper care for a tiger cub, and had a “shockingly cavalier attitude” toward the health and safety of its animals.

The Culpepper and Merriweather’s Circus issued a public response, “We realize there is an ever-growing concern placed on the welfare of our animal co-workers & companions. Our bond with our animals is something we are very proud of and excited for you to see. We get frequent compliments on the condition our animals are in. We welcome any questions about their care and encourage you to take our free morning tour at 9:30 a.m. for a chance to see them before ever purchasing a ticket. We are inspected regularly by state, federal, and local authorities. Our animals are also seen by vets every 30 days!”

Last year, animal rights activists across the nation celebrated over the closure of Ringling Brothers Circus after 100 years in operation. Ringling Brothers was perhaps the best known circus in the nation. According to the company’s news release at the time, the famed circus closed its doors due to high operating costs and a decline in ticket sales. Prior to shutting down, Ringing Bros had phased out elephant acts in the wake of criticism that included the Humane Society of the United States, and had been fined $270,000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Bans on circuses using live animals in performances has been gaining popularity. There are over 40 countries around the world and numerous municipalities in the United States that prohibit the use of circus animals.

“It is my hope that people will see others speaking out and that they will stop to think about what goes into these traveling circuses. There are so many other great family activities that don’t involve small cages, lack of exercise, physical abuse, and exhaustion for living, sentient creatures. We just want people to think about that. Anyone willing to speak out for animals that cannot advocate for themselves is invited to join us,” encouraged protest organizer Melillo.

Originating in Queen Creek, Arizona, now based in Hugo Creek, Oklahoma, the Culpepper & Merriweather Circus offers a free morning tour during set-up.

Per its website, at 9:30 a.m. every morning, a free tour of the circus grounds is offered to the public. The public is given the chance to meet animals up close and personal, learn about their routine and care, and get lots of information about the show’s daily operations. Large groups are welcome to attend the tent raising including day cares, elderly care facilities, and schools. Contact the circus beforehand if bringing a large group, so to help accommodate your group’s size or any special needs.

To contact the Culpepper & Merriweather circus, visit CMcircus.com website here or call 580-326-8833 and or email CMCircus@gmail.com.

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2 Comments

  1. Karen Melillo says:

    Hi! Thanks so much for publishing! :-))) Was wondering if you might change my name to spell as Melillo. Thanks so much!

    (SedonaEye.com editor: Thank you for the notice to correct. Our apologies for the misspelling.)

  2. Robin says:

    We don’t need this kind of negative targeting in our community Melillo and gang.
    In this day and age of internet and video and animal care facilities every place you turn, it’s ridiculous to see perfectly fine chances for the those amongst us to have a cheap good time seeing circus animals treated decently.
    Go after the drug lords, high dollar athletes and actors that keep exotic animals and reptiles and justify it, and the dealers and stores that sell to them and the general public. Go protest in front of stores like
    That and homes like That.

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