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PHOENIX -- Attendees at the Arizona Renaissance Festival on Saturday may see some protesters near the entrance.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, said it will be there from noon to 2 p.m. to protest the festival's elephant ride.

Spokleswoman Patricia Kaiserman said that the elephants are being abused.

"The elephant is actually shackled on one of its feet," she said. "It goes around in a circle with children on its back, or adults, whoever is wanting to ride on it."

She said that the elephants are prodded by a trainer using a bullhook and the ride should be done away with.

It's just one of the attractions Kaiserman wants the festival to get rid of.

"I want them to stop having elephant and camel rides," she said. "I would like them to, in addition to that, get rid of their little petting zoo because those animals are also transported in small cages and transported around the United States."

She claimed animals are also kept in confined areas.

"The Renaissance Festival is a wonderful thing, but they do not need to have that out there," said Kaiserman.

Arizona Renaissance Festival Producer Jeff Siegel issued a written statement to KTAR Friday afternoon, saying that the festival has "experienced animal protest activity" for more than a decade, but surveys of its audience showed the majority of festival-goers support continuing the animal activities. The statement said USDA inspections of the animals show that "they are well kept, in excellent condition with excellent veterinary care."

The statement also said the elephants and camels are rotated and get breaks and refreshments, and they have ample room for walks and daily exercise.

"My impression is that the animal owners have love and appreciation as stewards of their animals," the statement read.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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