Marlena Chertock, special to WTOP
WASHINGTON - A crowd of elephants gathered outside the White House Friday afternoon. No, not Republicans. Not the animal either.
Protesters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals donned elephant costumes and demonstrated against allegedly abused circus animals - like elephants.
Ashley Byrne, campaign specialist for PETA, says she wants people to know elephants are often abused by circuses, which use the animals to draw audiences.
"They are being beaten, hauled around the country in a stuffy box car and babies are being taken from their mothers and trained with electric prods," Byrne says.
In these conditions, elephants often develop foot problems, arthritis and depression, according to Byrne.
The protesters want President Barack Obama and the United States Department of Agriculture to take action by confiscating circus elephants and placing them in sanctuaries.
Diana Grundler, of Pennsylvania, passed by the protest and says she was not aware of the mistreatment of elephants.
"I am concerned about the treatment of animals because that says how we treat others," Grundler says.
"We should take care of them. They're wonderful animals," her husband Mike adds. "They certainly shouldn't be abused."
Byrne says Cirque du Soleil is an example of successful human-focused performances.
"The circus is simply no place for animals," Byrne says. "The circus should be the domain of willing human performers."
WTOP intern Carolyn Bick contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.
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