By Angie Herrington
Hundreds of people packed the McKenzie Arena at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga tonight for the opening night of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
They saw extreme contortionists, triple somersaults on the trapeze and a daredevil teeterboard act.
Production manager Brian Newman said the performers train daily to stay in shape, and being in the circus is a family tradition for many.
Mr. Newman said everything in this week’s show takes place in a single ring, which allows the audience to be only 20 or 30 feet away from the action.
“I’ve seen it more than a 100 times, and it never gets old,” Mr. Newman said.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States both issued news releases urging Chattanoogans to boycott the circus because of what they called cruel animal practices.
Ringling Bros. contends its training methods “are based on reward and repetition in the form of food rewards and words of praise,” according to its animal care fact sheet.
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