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No animals for Glendale circus

Contract states Ramos Bros. may not bring four-legged performers.

November 08, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Local workers were hired to help put up the Ramos Circus tent on the Civic Center Auditorium's parking lot in Glendale on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. The circus will be in town from Friday Nov. 23 through Monday Dec. 3.
Local workers were hired to help put up the Ramos Circus… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

There will be no animals at the Ramos Bros. Circus set to return to Glendale next week after city officials requested that the zebras, horses and other four-legged performers, except dogs and cats, be kept out of the show, partially because a camel escaped last November, causing a hullabaloo on Glendale Boulevard.

The getaway camel, which was eventually caught after a one-block pursuit, brought criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which at the time called on city officials to revoke the circus’ permit to operate in the Civic Auditorium’s parking lot.

Brad Wright, a former National Basketball Assn. player who now partially owns the circus, asked the City Council this week to let the Ramos Bros. Circus bring animals to the big top, pointing to several documents that showed they were healthy and safe.

But his 11th-hour plea didn’t work. The circus operators had already signed a contract with the city to rent the Civic Auditorium space agreeing not to bring animals before Wright and another new partner, Glendale Kia President Onnik Mehrabian, came onboard.

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To change it now would be difficult because several city departments, including fire, police and building safety, would have to be involved, said Tom Lorenz, city spokesman.

“It totally caught us off-guard,” Lorenz said of Wright’s request to have animals at the circus. “We’re going to stick with the original contract.”

Wright, who used to play for basketball for UCLA, the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets, said he was disheartened the city was blocking the circus from having animals.

“I’m disappointed not for myself and not for the circus, but for the kids,” Wright said. “It’s like having a birthday party without a cake.”

He added that he understands there are some who oppose animals in circuses, such as PETA, but he would invite critics to make a surprise visit to check on the animals’ quality of life.

“I’d want PETA to come at any time, inspect at any moment,” he said.

Lorenz said other cities have blocked the Ramos Bros. Circus from having animals in the past. That list includes Corona, which bans exotic or wild animals in the city. He added Glendale officials are open to reviewing animals at the circus next year on a case-by-case basis.

The circus will still have other featured acts, including clowns and motorcycle performances, Wright said.

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