Circuses frozen out of Ice Arena
New owners adopt policy to bar animal performances
DANBURY — The circus is not coming to town.
At least not to the Danbury’s downtown venue on Independence Way.
The Danbury Ice Arena no longer will host animal circuses. Arena officials announced the decision with the nonprofit animal advocacy organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals one day after the Garden Bros. Circus held three days’ worth of shows under its roof in early April.
The April shows drew protesters, including animal welfare activists Jill Alibrandi and Lisa Leigh Haut, who are trying to get Danbury to ban animal circuses altogether.
“There was a big issue with some of the exotic animals in the circus so we really took some time and reviewed it, and we decided we’re not going to go forward with it like that,” said Herman Sorcher, managing general partner at the Danbury Ice Arena.
The ice arena, which is under new ownership, was “obligated” to host Garden Bros. Circus earlier this month as part of an existing contract, an ice arena employee said.
PETA worked with the arena’s new owner, Diamond Properties,
and persuaded it to adopt a policy prohibiting “all animal circuses from performing there in the future,” according to a PETA news release.
“Diamond Properties is proud to align itself with PETA and its commitment to animal rights causes,” Diamond Properties cofounder and president Bill Diamond stated in the news release.
Diamond said he has kept track of PETA campaigns over the years and believes the organization has helped advance many “powerful” causes.
As the new owner of the Danbury Ice Arena, he said, Diamond Properties is “proud to be part not only of this particular cause, but
also of the PETA mission in general.”
Venues and localities across the country have canceled Garden Bros. shows or barred the circus from performing with animals, according to PETA.
By deciding to no longer host animal circuses like Garden Bros., Diamond Properties is “ushering the Danbury Ice Arena into a kinder age, when elephants and camels will no longer be threatened into performing circus tricks under its roof,” said Rachel Mathews, PETA Foundation deputy director.
The ice arena isn’t the first venue in Danbury to ban animal circuses.
Western Connecticut State University issued a ban in 2001, following years of protests at the O’Neill Center.
Aleta Markham, of New Milford, shows her sign to passing cars at the Patriot parking garage, protesting the Garden Brothers Circus shows at the Danbury Ice Arena earlier this month.