An old but new circus is coming to town.
Garden Bros. Circus, which started more than 100 years ago will put on two shows Thursday, April 25, at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent. This will mark the first appearance at the city-owned ShoWare Center by the Garden Bros. Circus. Doors open one hour before showtime.
The Ringling Bros. circus performed at the ShoWare Center for about seven straight years before closing down in 2017 after more than 100 years in business. A decline in ticket sales and high operations caused Feld Entertainment to shut down the circus. Ringling Bros. no longer had elephants perform starting in 2015 when it stopped traveling to the Pacific Northwest. The removal of elephants from the circus hurt ticket sales across the nation.
The 90-minute Garden Bros. Circus features more than 60 performers from 22 countries, including the Human Pyramid, Aerial Daredevils, Crazy Cossack Horse Riders, six Motorcycles in the Sphere of Fear, Comedy Dogs, Wheel of Death and the funniest clowns. Live animal rides, food and face painting in the Kids Fun Zone also are part of the show.
Tickets are $35 for adults general admission and $45 for VIP floor seats. Children under 13 get in for free with a paid adult, with a limit of one child per adult. Ticket prices for children are $10 general admission and $20 for VIP floor seats. For tickets, go to accessoshowarecenter.com or the ShoWare Center box office, 625 W. James St.
PETA opposes circus
Virginia-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) urges people to stay away from attending the Garden Bros. Circus because of alleged mistreatment of animals. PETA organized annual protests outside of the ShoWare Center when the Ringling Bros. came to town.
“Garden Bros. Circus – which has a ‘F’ rating from the Better Business Bureau – is as sleazy as it gets and represents everything that’s wrong with using animals in traveling shows,” said Rachel Mathews, PETA Foundation deputy director, in an email. “Its workers have been caught striking an elephant in the face with a bullhook, whipping a llama onstage, forcing painfully lame elephants to give rides and perform tricks, denying veterinary care to wounded and injured animals and more. PETA urges caring people to stay far away from this and other outfits that try to turn a profit on the backs of suffering animals.”
The Better Business Bureau gave the circus a bad grade for failing to respond to nine complaints.
“Our animal trainers and handlers have love and compassion for all of the animals under their care,” Garden Bros. Circus said in an emailed response to PETA’s statement. “The animals in our circus are like family. They are treated with the utmost respect and attention. Every month they are carefully inspected by a vet and receive new health certificates. All of the animals are USDA certified.
“Anyone can see that our talented animal friends are happy performers with no distress. It is our priority to provide them with anything that allows us to meet their everyday needs. They are never lonely, always offered fresh food and water and they love bath time.”
Tim Higgins, ShoWare Center general manager, released the following statement in response to the PETA comment.
“Accesso ShoWare Center was built to bring events to the city of Kent and the Puget Sound region,” Higgins said. “Our mission is to promote a wide range of entertainment and utilize the arena as it is intended. We are excited to offer another great option for family entertainment with Garden Bros. circus choosing our city and region.”
Other stops in Washington in April by the Garden Bros. Circus include Walla Walla, Longview, Lynden and Everett.
PETA said that numerous venues and localities across the country – including in California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Vermont and Virginia – have canceled Garden Bros. shows or barred the circus from performing with animals.