Crowds gather outside Shrine Circus performance in Independence to protest animal living conditions

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The Ararat Shrine Circus is designed to be entertaining for both kids and adults.

“This is a 200-year tradition, and it’s fun, and there’s laughter," said Randy Berry, Ararat Shrine Circus ringmaster. "There’s just nothing better than the energy of the circus."

The traveling circus is performing in the Kansas City metro this weekend. The three day event features acrobats, clowns and plenty of shows with animals.

“We’ve got our pony rides, we’ll have our big jumbo elephants, we’ll have our Mongolian camels over there, you’ll be able to come up and get a picture with our Siberian tiger,” said Berry.

But not everyone agrees with the methods of this attraction.

A small group of protesters gathered outside of the arena on Friday evening with a different message for people passing by.

“We don’t think that they need to use animals in their shows," said Ryan Langton who was among the crowd of protesters. "They’ve got plenty of other performances and things to entertain the people. We just want them to leave the animals out of it."

Animal rights activists say they don’t think the conditions circus animals are kept in are suitable.

“The circuses have to travel from city to city and [the animals are] put in confined spaces, and there’s a lot of instances of animals dying and going insane. It’s really an unnatural condition,” Langton said.

Shrine Circus members said the animals are well cared for and get ample time outdoors each day. They want the focus to be on family fun and bringing the community together.

“There’s so much in the world right now to bring us down," Berry said. "When you could leave here on a feeling good note, we’ve done our job."

The circus will be in town through Sunday at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence. For show times and prices visit the company's website.

Protestors say they plan to demonstrate near the venue each day the circus is in town. Their goal is to make people aware and inspire people to research the treatment of circus animals.