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Published Aug. 24, 2005

Pedestrians on Wednesday make their way along Franklin Street downtown as Wendy Girard, of Santa Barbara, Calif., wears shackles to protest against the treatment of circus animals. Girard, a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, portrays a captive animal beaten, scarred and locked in a cage. In their annual protest of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, PETA members gathered at Gaslight Park, across from City Hall, to discourage people from going to the circus. They displayed posters that read "Circuses are deadly" and handed out fliers that said 19 elephants have died under the circus' control since 1992. In response, Ringling Bros. officials gave the media a statement, saying, "Today's "Naked Woman Chained and Beaten' stunt is a repeat performance of the past and a perfect example of how certain activist groups use their donors' funds. Instead of spending their resources directly on animal care, they use up time and money on sensational stunts and inaccurate promotional campaigns." The statement also says the circus is the industry leader in animal well-being. Shows run through Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum. PETA members say they plan to protest in front of the forum on show nights.