Update: Lakeville Arenas to stop hosting circuses
The circus might be in town tonight, but in the future Lakeville Arenas (which operates the Ames and Hasse arenas) will no longer rent its sites to circuses that use animals.
This is in part because of pressure from PETA, the animal rights group, who notified Lakeville Arenas about the The Great American Family Circus, which is set to perform tonight. Owned by the Liebel Family, the circus company has allegedly been charged with dozens of violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
In an email exchange between Kristine Baney of PETA and Shayne Ratcliff, manager of the Arenas, Ratcliff said that while the organization is contractually obligated to host tonight’s circus, “we have reevaluated our rental policy and will no longer offer our facility to circus companies in the future.”
In the email, Ratcliff said that he met with the board of directors of the Arenas on April 18 and formalized the policy.
According to PETA, the Liebel Family Circus has a long history of animal abuse, including chaining animals so tightly that they can’t move and denying them veterinary care.
“PETA commends Lakeville Arenas for taking a stand against cruelty to animals, public endangerment and violations of federal law,” said PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Delcianna Winders in a statement.
Ratcliff said that though PETA provided some key information that contributed to the board’s decision, ultimately the decision rested on the viability of circuses as entertainment for the community.
“We realized that circuses in general could be offensive,” Ratcliff said.
Lakeville Arenas hosts events such as circuses and derbies to “generate revenue to offset ice rates.”
“It was never our intent to offend anyone,” he said.
The City of Lakeville and the Lakeville school district jointly own Lakeville Arenas.