Sunday, June 22, 2014

Big Top Controversy: Boise Circus-Goers Met With Protest

Posted By on Sun, Jun 22, 2014 at 9:06 AM

Lorraine Guptill (left) organized the anti-circus protest.
  • Kelsey Crow
  • Lorraine Guptill (left) organized the anti-circus protest.

As promised, a handful of protesters positioned themselves outside of Boise's CenturyLink Arena this weekend to express their displeasure with circuses that feature exotic animals.

Protesters' signs read, "Their pain, your shame," and, "Elephants are abused," while their T-shirts had a more direct message: "End circus cruelty."

"Lots of people don't know what goes on behind closed doors," protest organizer Lorraine Guptill, a Mountain Home store owner, told Boise Weekly prior to the demonstration. "Every year we have a lot of people who say they're sorry they went in and they're never coming back."

Hundreds of people, nonetheless, streamed past the protesters and through the doors of the arena to see the Shrine Circus, which also toured Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Twin Falls this month. The circus wraps up a weekend of shows in Boise on Sunday.

But the Shrine Circus wouldn't be welcome in the Wood River Valley communities of Ketchum and Sun Valley. That's where a group of elementary school children successfully lobbied lawmakers to ban circuses using exotic animals.

"I think it's pretty cool," 12-year-old Sam Laski told Boise Weekly. "Not many people on the Ketchum City Council knew about how circus animals are mistreated; so I think it's pretty neat that we can spread this message out to the community."

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