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Who can deny the sense of excitement the young and the young-at-heart feel when the circus comes to town? The sounds, smells, and attractions create a fantasy world where everything is fun.

But is it all good clean fun? Evidence in recent years suggests quite the contrary. The worst problems seem to be with the smaller circuses. In the past year, The HSUS has assisted several local societies investigating cruelty to animals in traveling circuses, rescued elephants and lions abandoned by a circus, and signed three complaints against one of the largest of today's small big tops.

According to Frantz Dantzler, chief HSUS cruelty investigator, "The traveling circus of today is a poor imitation of the great circuses of the past. The tents are a little worse for wear. The paint is chipped. The music is a little off key, and the costumes need pressing. But worst of all--the animal exhibits are without doubt very, very cruel."