Group protests circus in Wilmette
Updated: September 29, 2012 6:03AM
While many Wilmette families were inside the big top tent watching the Kelly Miller Circus perform Friday night, a handful of protesters were waiting outside the Mikaelian Education Center.
Former Wilmette Public School student Valerie J. Chalcraft led a group of protesters who were condemning the circus for its alleged treatment of the animals, specifically the elephants.
The group had signs, handouts and even video on an iPad,which shows a Kelly Miller Circus elephant allegedly being beaten by trainers.
“We’re concerned the Wilmette Public Schools and the (District 39 Education Foundation) chose to exhibit wild animals who suffer in training and travel,” Chalcraft said. “They’re ignoring the fact that the animals are trained with punishment.”
Chalcraft has protested the Kelly Miller Circus outside the education center in 2002, 2008, 2010 and returned again this year. While most walked by her group, a few parents did grab a copy of her statement, which spoke out against the use of animals performing in circuses.
“People don’t see the beatings or the travel from city to city,” Chalcraft said.
The animal behaviorist and psychologist, began questioning the use of animals in performances while she was in college and claims the training and travel affect the social abilities of the elephants.
She encouraged district officials to end their relationship with the Kelly Miller Circus, saying the fundraiser is, “certainly not educational.”
“There’s safer, more humane ways to make money,” Chalcraft said. “This just isn’t worth it.” ~.