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PETA planning protest at Arizona Renaissance Festival

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.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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