James Hamid Jr., owner and producer of Hamid Circus Inc., which puts on the circus for the Akron-based Tadmor Shriners, said Friday that elephants are in-demand with audiences, so he plans to keep them.
CANTON The Tadmor Shrine Circus will have two elephants on hand for its performances in town this weekend.Bunny and Libby, both females, also will offer rides before the shows and during intermission.On a national scale, circus elephants are a source of controversy. Earlier this month, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced it would phase out its use of elephants by 2018, amid criticism that training methods were too violent and that elephants shouldn’t live in captivity.But James Hamid Jr., owner and producer of Hamid Circus, which puts on the Canton circus for the Akron-based Tadmor Shriners, said Friday that elephants are in demand with audiences, so he plans to keep them.Shriners prepping for the circus Friday referred questions to Hamid.It’s getting harder to find elephants, however. Not as many people want to raise or train elephants because of stringent regulations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the backlash from animal-rights groups, Hamid said.Plus, elephants aren’t a cheap investment. Buying an elephant — and supplying the veterinarian, the barn, the farm and the transportation — can cost about $1.5 million.Hamid Circus doesn’t own or train the elephants. It gets them from an independent provider.“Eventually, it’s going to come to an end,” Hamid said.Outside Canton Memorial Civic Center on Friday, away from the cotton candy, the line of children and parents and the Tadmor Shrine Temple organ piping out circus music, a group stood along Market Avenue N with posters protesting the use of animal acts.Veronica Dickey, of Jackson Township, said she is most concerned about tigers and elephants. The tigers are kept in cages nearly around the clock, she said, and the heavy elephants spend hours standing, which is hard on their feet.Maureen Kerr, of Plain Township, held a sign that read “Boycott the circus” and “Elephants are abused.” Sandie Sajner had come from Painesville and was setting up posters in the grass near the Canton Civic Center.They’re not opposed to the Shriners. The women said they just want to see a circus without animals.Performances are scheduled for 10 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today and 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday.