Community reflects on Tarzan Zerbini Circus extending their show for another weekend

Brooklyn Cady

After a successful opening weekend, the Tarzan Zerbini Circus extended their stay in the Joplin/Webb City area for another week due to “popular demand.”

Joplin resident, Jessica Linder, attended the circus last weekend with her husband and two young children. “We had a great time! The atmosphere was upbeat and exciting. We hadn’t done much as far as fun family activities since March of 2020 due to COVID. This was a perfect start to getting back to normal,” said Linder.  

Linder felt as though the circus was a good way for her family to enjoy time out in the community with very little complaints about the show itself. 

“The only thing I would change about the circus would be better parking. They had many people doing a great job with what they had to work with, but there was room for improvement,” said Linder.  

Linder said the Tarzan Zerbini Circus impacted Joplin’s community. “As far as I could tell by the parking lot, long lines, and rare empty seats the Joplin community showed up to enjoy a show and forget about the outside world for a few hours,” said Linder.

Some residents are concerned about the treatment of animals, but Linder said she only saw positive interactions between the performers and their four-legged costars. 

“I saw well-kept animals that were rewarded for their performance.  When animals did not perform the exact command, the animal tamer smiled and moved on with the show. Although I can’t speak for every circus, this staff seemed to love their animals and their job,” said Linder.  

For those who might consider attending the circus this weekend, Linder encourages locals to go.

“My kids are begging to go back again. We all had a fantastic time. I would recommend people of all ages to attend,” said Linder.  

Hundreds of local residents support the circus as a fun show they’re happy to enjoy with their family, but others condemn the acts for their use of animals, and they weigh implications of animal cruelty and unethical treatment.  

Animal rights activists have protested in front of the enormous tents and flooded comment sections on Facebook to spread awareness about unethical treatment of animals in circus settings.

Joplin resident, Tamara Colson, is among several members of the Joplin community who are worried about how circuses treat animals.

“Animal welfare is my concern. They are often subjected to poor living conditions, confinement for long periods, restricted movement through chaining and tethering, extreme temperatures, high noise levels, and abusive training methods. These animals are over worked which causes fatigue, exhaustion, animal aggression, and poor health,” said Colson.

A common source for opposing viewpoints regarding utilizing animals within circuses is PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. While PETA’s headquarters are in Norfolk, VA, a local branch has observed the Tarzan Zerbini Circus and created a fact sheet available on their website called, “Tarzan Zerbini Circus and Two Tails Ranch.”

Within the fact sheet, PETA brings attention to the Two Tails Ranch, which is a zoo in Florida owned by the Zerbini family. PETA said both the zoo and circus fail to meet minimum standards regarding the care of animals outlined by the federal Animal Welfare Act, or AWA.

Additionally, PETA said the Tarzan Zerbini Circus has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their lack of maintaining a veterinary care program and medical records. Other reasons for their negative citations include providing animals with an inadequate amount of space and improper maintenance regarding transport vehicles.

Colson doesn’t support the use of animals in circus acts whatsoever, even if circuses were required to meet a standard of treatment for their animals enforced by organizations who had the power to shut them down.

“I don’t believe the circus should be allowed to use animals in their acts at all. They shouldn’t be forced to work or take part in these shows. It is an unnatural, stressful environment that causes anxiety and depression,” said Colson. “They deserve the chance to run, play, socialize, to have privacy. They deserve freedom, independence, respect, kindness, and dignity. Watching wild animals perform unnatural tricks teaches our children it’s acceptable to exploit and mistreat animals for amusement.”