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updated: 9/13/2017 9:54 PM

Elk Grove Village residents protest circus, despite elephant ban

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  • Video: Circus,protesters in Elk Grove

  • Karen Stramaglio is one of about a dozen people protesting the use of elephants and other animals at the Kelly Miller Circus in Elk Grove Village Wednesday afternoon.

      Karen Stramaglio is one of about a dozen people protesting the use of elephants and other animals at the Kelly Miller Circus in Elk Grove Village Wednesday afternoon.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Elephant trainer Joey Frisco washes Cindy, right, while Jenny waits her turn prior to performances by The Kelly Miller Circus in Elk Grove Village Wednesday. The circus runs through Thursday.

      Elephant trainer Joey Frisco washes Cindy, right, while Jenny waits her turn prior to performances by The Kelly Miller Circus in Elk Grove Village Wednesday. The circus runs through Thursday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Elk Grove Village Lions Club Vice President Ray Szull, left, whose organization is the sponsor of the Kelly Miller Circus' visit to the village, has a discussion with residents Sharon Steele, middle, and Karen Stramaglio, who are among those protesting the use of elephants and other animals at the circus.

      Elk Grove Village Lions Club Vice President Ray Szull, left, whose organization is the sponsor of the Kelly Miller Circus' visit to the village, has a discussion with residents Sharon Steele, middle, and Karen Stramaglio, who are among those protesting the use of elephants and other animals at the circus.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Water drips from Cindy, an Asian elephant, as she is washed prior to performances by The Kelly Miller Circus in Elk Grove Village Wednesday. The circus runs through Thursday.

      Water drips from Cindy, an Asian elephant, as she is washed prior to performances by The Kelly Miller Circus in Elk Grove Village Wednesday. The circus runs through Thursday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Trainer Joey Frisco of The Kelly Miller Circus displays a tattoo decorated with elephants.

      Trainer Joey Frisco of The Kelly Miller Circus displays a tattoo decorated with elephants.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Joey Frisco washes Cindy, one of two Asian elephants performing with The Kelly Miller Circus, prior to the show in Elk Grove Village Wednesday.

      Joey Frisco washes Cindy, one of two Asian elephants performing with The Kelly Miller Circus, prior to the show in Elk Grove Village Wednesday.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Jenny, one of two Asian elephants with The Kelly Miller Circus, waits her turn to get washed in Elk Grove Village Wednesday. As of next year, Illinois law while prohibit performances by circus elephants.

      Jenny, one of two Asian elephants with The Kelly Miller Circus, waits her turn to get washed in Elk Grove Village Wednesday. As of next year, Illinois law while prohibit performances by circus elephants.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 

Although elephants will no longer appear in Illinois circuses after this year, the fight continues for local residents opposed to using wild animals in the shows.

Protesters waved signs outside the Kelly Miller Circus in Elk Grove Village on Wednesday as one of the final suburban performances including elephants continued inside the one-ring circus.

"We are definitely going to be here until there are animal-free circuses all over," said Elk Grove Village resident Rachel Carrell, who has been protesting at the circus the past nine years.

In August, Illinois became the first state to ban elephants from performing in circuses or traveling exhibits. The law takes effect Jan. 1.

The Kelly Miller Circus, which is running a slate of shows throughout the state this fall, has said its employees treat animals properly and that it plans to continue performing in Illinois even without elephants.

The Elk Grove Village Lions Club sponsors the circus as a fundraiser for the organization.

"We are a peaceable people," said Katy Dolan Baumer, secretary for the local chapter. "We're just trying to serve our neighbors, our residents, our friends."

The circus says it seeks to be transparent by inviting the local community to watch animals prepare for the show. On Wednesday, the employees could be seen bathing the circus' two elephants.

However, critics argue the training tactics used on animals in circuses when the public is not around are cruel.

Gina Stramaglio, another Elk Grove Village resident protesting the circus, said she and her family used to visit the circus until she looked up videos online showing animals being trained.

"If anyone witnesses a day in the life of these animals, there's nothing great and inspiring about that," Stramaglio said.

Whether circuses will continue visiting Illinois after the law takes effect is uncertain. A year after the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus stopped using elephants, the premier show shut down amid dwindling ticket sales.

Despite the protests, Dolan Baumer said she sensed enthusiasm from the community for the final circus with elephants.

"Who knows if they'll come back," she said. "People are buying tickets because they know it's the last one with elephants so there's this underlying excitement for it."

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