Animal Cruelty protesters gather near Tarzan Zerbini Circus

MACHESNEY PARK (WIFR) --- The Tarzan Zerbini Circus is in town - right in Machesney Park mall parking lot. The tent was nearly full Friday evening as eager fans gathered to see the wonders.

However, not all are quite so easily amused. A group of protesters gathered along with the crowds to stand up against what they say is cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.

Sky Garcia was among those protesters.

"They're whipped. They're sprayed with water hoses. And no one knows that," says Skye, who says word needs to be spread about how she believes circus animals are treated.

"They don't belong on this continent, let alone in the Machesney Park mall parking lot," says Brad Fugiel, who organized the protest in regards to the elephants, tigers, and other animals commonly used in circus performances.

Joseph Bauer is the Ringmaster and Performance Director for the Tarzan Zerbini Circus. He says they treat the animals like family.

"We've always kept a level of respect for our animals, and have always taken good care of them, so as far as being government compliant, we haven't really had to change anything because it's always been thumbs up for our animals."

Bauer says the Tarzan Zerbini Circus has a facility in Chaplain, Missouri where animals can spend time off for several month or eventually retire.

The Tarzan Zerbini Circus will be in the area until Sunday.