Circuses have long been a source of amusement and entertainment for young and old alike. They also have long been a point of contention between animal rights activists and the people who run the shows. Debates and studies can be found online, some supporting the animal right\u2019s proponents, and others defending the treatment of circus animals. The show, and the debate, will be forefront in Milford next week when Cole Brothers comes to town with its elephants, tigers and other circus acts: In Defense of Animals will be there too, and is planning a protest on circus nights. \u201cClassic Circus, American-style, complete with elephants, tigers, thrilling aerialists and acrobats, mystifying magic and hilarious clowns\u201d will appear in Milford at the Westfield Connecticut Post mall from Monday, June 10, through Wednesday, June 12, with two Cole Brothers shows each day, at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., according to a circus advertisement. The show features \u201cPrincess Vicenta\u2019s astonishing assemblage of white tigers, awesome elephants with special guest star siblings, Babies Val and Hugo.\u201d There will be daredevils, high wire acts, dogs, a human cannonball and clowns, the advertisement continues. Standing outside, likely at a distance as they have in past years, will be the people holding signs and urging others to put their wallets away and skip going to the circus. The protesters will include people like Milford resident Lorrie Davies, who is passionate about protecting animals and fighting for their well-being. \u201cThe elephants are repeatedly beaten with bullhooks and sometimes even electro-shocked,\u201d Davies argued in a recent letter to the Milford Mirror. \u201cThe \u2018trainers\u2019 need to break the elephant\u2019s will by causing pain and fear, which makes the poor animals submit,\u201d she wrote. \u201cThe gruesome details are too graphic to write about but any Youtube video will confirm what is really going on behind the scenes.\u201d She\u2019s not the only one who feels this way. According to a National Geographic News article from 2004, a number of municipalities have banned circus animal performances. Davies wants to see Milford added to that list, and argues that there are circus shows that do not include live animals and that are just as entertaining. \u201cThere is an alternative to this cruel event,\u201d Davies said. \u201cCole Brothers has an animal-free circus called Circus of the Stars. It includes jugglers, acrobats, clowns, rides and all the fun of the circus minus the animals.\u201d Last year Davies appealed to the aldermen to create an ordinance that would ban circuses that use animals in their acts. There wasn\u2019t much movement on her request, but she said several aldermen have recently gotten back to her and are studying the matter and sending her feedback. Renee Storey, Cole Brothers\u2019 vice president of administration, has a different story about circuses and their treatment of animals. She argues that circus people treat animals well because they love them and work closely with them. The USDA requires a veterinarian supervisor be in place to oversee a health program for the animals. And while the vet doesn\u2019t travel with the circus, the circus uses veterinarians along the way to make sure the animals receive regular examinations and inoculations, she said. \u201cBy touring with animals, we raise consciousness about endangered species,\u201d Storey said. \u201cWe make people care about the elephants and the tigers. There\u2019s nothing like seeing animals up close.\u201d Cole Brothers does not use a bullhook to control elephants, she said, but rather an ankus, which she said is an elephant guide. Online sources refer to the ankus as an elephant hook, and show a metal pole with a curved pointy attachment. Storey described it as an \u201cavoidance tool\u201d used the way a \u201cbit and bridle\u201d are used on a horse. \u201cYou can\u2019t put a collar and a leash on an elephant,\u201d Storey said, explaining the need for the ankus. An electric fence keeps the Cole Brothers elephants enclosed in an area, and Storey said the system works along the same lines as electric fences that people use to keep their dogs in their yards and that agricultural businesses use to secure livestock. The animals are happy, she said, referencing a study by Dr. Ted Friend from Texas A&M University. Friend studied circus animals and determined they were not stressed when traveling and that they became agitated when they did not perform with the other animals, Storey said. Friend, a professor at Texas A&M University\u2019s Department of Animal Science in College Station, conducted several behavioral studies on circus elephants, including one on the effects of transportation, according to an online article in National Geographic News from 2004. \u201cA time-lapse video camera was used to record the behavior of elephants while traveling in semi-trailers and railroad cars,\u201d the article states. \u201cThe animals were owned by four circus operators: Clyde Beatty (now called Cole Brothers), Hawthorn Corporation, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, and Carson & Barnes.\u201d Elephants were frequently observed weaving\u2014a shifting of weight from side to side. While doing this, they also ate, threw hay on their backs, and looked out the window, the article continues. \u201cThe 2001 study concluded that weaving during transport did not appear to be indicative of poor welfare, because the elephants were engaged in other activities and not in a trancelike state,\u201d according to the report. However, the article also cites some of the abuse that Davies refers to. It notes that in 2004 circus animals were ordered removed from an Illinois company because of mistreatment and mishandling. Of 16 of those elephants, two tested positive for tuberculosis. Davies hopes to see Milford\u2019s aldermen follow up on circus restrictions. She would at least like to see the use of bullhooks banned here, and says that would be a good start. Storey said she would like to see the circus people and the animal rights group meet and discuss issues objectively. She says Cole Brothers has nothing to hide, and their tents are open to people who want to come in and see how the animals are treated. Milford Alderman Frank Smith said the city\u2019s ordinance committee has been looking into the issue and is leaning toward an ordinance that bans bullhooks and not animal shows outright. He expects it might come to a full board meeting for action in the next couple of months.