WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- The Irem Shrine Circus has been a tradition in the Wyoming Valley for nearly 70 years.
On Monday, people were protesting outside of the circus calling for the fair treatment of animals.
As people drove into the parking lot for the circus at the 109th Field Artillery Armory in Luzerne County, they were greeted by a shackled costume elephant and protesters who said they were speaking up for the rights of circus animals.
"We think this is a disgrace to nature to allow these majestic animals to be treated like this. There's no respect for animals," said Silvie Pomicter, president of Voice of the Animals.
Marion Welebob and her pal Connor Costello stopped by to see the show. Welebob says she's been coming to the circus for years. She doesn't believe any of the animals are abused.
"I don't think the animals are tortured. I think they're treated well. We just love to come. I don't agree with the protesters outside," said Welebob.
Protesters argue tigers wouldn't be doing tricks in the wild, but those who work in the circus say they that they use a reward system to motivate the animals.
"Like the dog gets a treat, a tiger gets a piece of meat, and to say that the elephants are taken from the wild, these are born right here in captivity," said circus producer Billy Martin.
Martin says he respects protesters right to voice their opinions, but he says these circus animals are treated very well.
"There's an exercise pen out back. The tigers have their own full semi (truck) where they are all loose inside and they can run and play. The trainer plays soccer with them for goodness sakes," said Martin.
Protesters say they hope these animals are let free.
"We hope that someday, eventually, the circuses will let these animals go and release them to wildlife sanctuaries," Pomicter said.
The circus is in town until Saturday.