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Colombia: Humane Group Protests Circus Animal Cruelty

Circus ElephantAHURA, the Humanitarian Association for Animal Rescue, peacefully protested last Monday in Bucaramanga against the Mexican Circus, part of the Hermanos Gasca circus company who uses animals as part of their act. On their FaceBook cause page, they tell of how in Pereira, another city in Colombia, the protests achieved the liberation of a small elephant who will now be free of reported abuse and will stay in a zoo. Videos of circus animal abuse in the region have made their rounds on the internet, sparking protests and confusions as to what is really going on in the circuses that are visiting Colombia. The image is from Ivonne Garzón's blog, who wrote about protests they had last April.

Following, the 5 part video of the peaceful protests, where young adults standing in front of the circus can be seen proclaiming in the third part that “the animals have no choice, we make the decision for them”. The short videos can be found on YouTube, uploaded by the AHURA organization. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

This following low quality video uploaded by YouTube user nanisper shows protesters across the street from the Hermanos Gasca circus in Pereira and records a bit of ambient sound and circus animals when someone comes up to the camerawoman and threatens to beat her up if she continues recording, repeatedly threatening her to punch her face in.

Another group in Colombia tried to record through the fences a video showing the conditions the tigers and other animals were in, but circus employees covered the fence in tarps and the cages with cloths so the images couldn't be recorded, as the following video shows.

This protest against animals in circuses isn't new, and it isn't the first time the Hermanos Gasca circus has been in the limelight for animal cruelty. Not too long ago, a video with footage from an undercover agent depicting animal abuse in circuses [es] made its rounds in the Colombian blogosphere denouncing the Hermanos Gasca circus for animal abuse. Shocking images of monkeys getting stoned, an elephant being given a bath while the handlers strikes it in the face, a dead giraffe being dismembered for its removal from premises to go unnoticed, lions in concrete and metal cages while it snows, and polar being snowed on and a polar bear in a truck with a fan as its only relief from heat moved the masses to protest. This, however turned out to be a mistake from the TV station, who apologized on the air, as shown on this YouTube video [es]excusing themselves for falling prey to sensationalism. The network had received footage under the premise of it being breaking news from a Humane association overseas saying it was recorded at the Hermanos Gasca circus and they made a note with interviews on this, without noticing that the same images have been making their rounds on the internet already, and that it was a compendium of all possible abuses in circuses, not specifically the Hermanos Gasca's. That this program was recorded from the TV, edited and uploaded by someone else, giving the idea that the Hermanos Gasca circus was responsible for it all. However, the circus did admit that the elephant being bathed and beaten was recorded in their circus and that the handler was fired.

On the Animal Defenders International website there is a full report of the animal abuses they recorded in Colombia [en] both by the Hermanos Gasca circus and the Africa Beast Circus through undercover cameras in their study in 2006 and 2007., and their report, available for download on PDF format in English or Spanish tells the stories behind the images caught on this video, as well as other abuses in other Central American countries such as Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

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