The circus is not making its way to Key West this January after City Commissioner Tony Yaniz brought up 2004 allegations concerning the visiting family circus, Walker International Events.
“Walker International Events has been cited by the USDA to have been cruel to animal and spread diseases,” said Yaniz, staring a conversation among the commission. He continued, “If we have room to have a circus, why can’t we have a county fair?”
City Manager Jim Scholl told the commission the circus issue came up first at a 2010 meeting, adding that the alleged violations date back to 2004, a decade ago, and there has not been any official violations since.
City Commissioner Clayton Lopez said he was on the fence because part of the circus proceeds would benefit the Police Athletic League (PAL) organization, which is always in desperate needs of funding. However, Officer Deglys Chavarria said the circus only brought in $500 from the three-day event last year.
Yaniz continued to criticize the circus and said it is inhumane to cage any elephant. He said he did not want Key West to be labeled as a town that promotes poor treatment of animals. Mayor Craig Cates challenged his argument, replying there have not been any reports since 2004, and it’s something fun people in town look forward to.
“I have been there with my grandkids and enjoyed it. You have a personal opinion that might be different, but many people in town like the circus,” he said.
Cates, City Commissioner Billy Wardlow and City Commissioner Mark Rossi all voted to keep the circus but they lost in a 3-4 vote.