Protesters work outside Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City during Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus ran this weekend at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City amid the cries of animal rights protesters.

The animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was on site, providing passerby with literature on the accusations of animal abuse and cruelty that have plagued the famous circus. Protests focused primarily on the alleged mistreatment of the Asian elephant, a key component of the show.

PETA protesters refer to Ringling Bros. Circus as “The Cruelest Show on Earth.” According to the animal rights workers, leaked footage of the circus trainers abusing the show’s elephants, as well as a short segment on the abuse of the tigers, should be enough to levy large fines against the organization. Four alleged elephant deaths have been linked to the circus’s cruel treatment, said the protesters.

The Ringling Bros. website, www.ringling.com, has posted a video and explanation in rebuttal that shows their 200-acre, 5-million dollar facility, located in central Florida, which specializes in elephant conservation. Since the Asian elephant is an endangered species, Ringling Bros. has established a breeding ground and care facility for the species. According to official press releases, the circus supplies an on-site staff that includes veterinarians and researchers.

PETA advocate Jessica Milford stood in front of Energy Solutions Arena on Friday evening, along with many of her friends, handing out literature and speaking with groups of people about to attend the circus.

“We’re really just here to spread the word about what’s going on,” Milford said, “because honestly, I don’t think that there’s a way that these people, (if they) know what’s going on, they wouldn’t be supporting the circus.”

Weber State University students support a few organizations that advocate against animal cruelty. Animal Unanimity is a student organization formed in the interest of proper treatment of animals. Students can sign up to become a member through their Weber portal, under the MyWeber tab of clubs/organizations.

WSU is also a member of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which takes responsibility to ensure the humane treatment of all animals used for research and scholarly purposes.