GREENSBORO — She was a traffic stopper, for sure.

Nearly naked with her body painted like a zebra, Nikki Ford had men craning their necks for a look as she stood at the intersection of South Elm Street and East Friendly Avenue early Tuesday afternoon.

But it wasn’t her body that Ford or the two women with her wanted passersby to notice. It was the sign she held that read: “Get Animals Out of UniverSoul Circus.”

Ford and others with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) stood at the intersection Tuesday to protest UniverSoul, which kicks off its run in Greensboro tonight at the Greensboro Coliseum. The interactive show combines circus art, theater and music.

Tricia Lebkuecher, a PETA campaigner, said if kids knew how animals were treated in circuses, they would run “kicking and screaming” from the shows. She said animals are often beaten to get them to perform tricks.

In a statement on its website, UniverSoul Circus said “all animals are entitled to humane treatment.”

“We care about the wellbeing of each of the animals that travels with and performs in our shows and we regard all of them as valued members of our performing cast,” the company says.

Gloria Ramaley of Charlotte, the artist who painted Ford’s body, passed out literature to the downtown lunch crowd that described how animals suffer in circuses.

Some onlookers snapped pictures of Ford. People in the Self Help building stared from windows. Men made catcalls.

Lebkuecher said Tuesday’s demonstration was meant to get the public to steer clear of circuses. PETA has also protested against Ringling Bros., which is closing in May.

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily morning newsletter.

Jonnelle Davis is a reporter for the Greensboro News & Record. Contact her at jonnelle.davis@greensboro.com or (336) 373-7080 and follow @jonsieNR on Twitter.

Recommended for you

Load comments