EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) The Hadi Shrine Circus returns to Evansville after last year’s cancellation. It also happens as calls for the end of animal performances at circuses goes on.

The performers, and those who watch them perform, both returned after last year’s cancellation.

“I’m actually looking forward to seeing the circus again. I haven’t been here in about 3-4 years, so it’s kind of good to go see it again,” said Milton Norman of Evansville.

“The clowns,” added Charlotte Boren of Evansville, when asked what she was looking forward to the most. “They’re so funny.”

Dale Thomas of Hadi Shrine says sales this year have been stronger than past years due to a demand for entertainment after the pandemic cancelled last year’s circus. Some are here for the first time, others returning for the first time in a while.

“It’s been many years,” said Brent Curry of Philpot, Ky.

The return happens as a group of protestors continues their call for the city of Evansville to ban animal performers at entertainment venues, over claims of mistreatment and people getting hurt being too close to certain animals.

“These animals have been in this industry for decades, so the psychological stress an elephant or tiger  or bear has accumulated all these years. It’s not something that we can easily quantify,” said Sandy Jey, who’s part of the group leading the effort in Evansville.

But Thomas said evansville animal control officers and evansville zoo officials inspected them this week and found everything in order and the animals well cared for. City Commissioner Missy Mosby said earlier this week the Hadi Shriners cancelled some performers in the past because they felt the performers weren’t following their guidelines.

The annual Hadi Shrine Circus runs through Sunday.

(This story was originally published on November 25, 2021)