ROCKLAND — A Thomaston selectman says the town will host two shows next week by the Zerbini Family Circus after the Rockland City Council rejected its permit because residents there raised concerns about the treatment of animals.

Thomaston Selectman Peter Lammert said Wednesday that he acted quickly after he heard that the Rockland City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to not grant a permit to the circus that features ponies, horses, dogs and clowns. Lammert said he talked to two of the other four selectman by phone to get their approval.

The circus will set up on a grassy area north of the Lura Libby School, Lammert said, adding that a permit is not required and a vote by the selectboard is not necessary for the circus to use town property. The shows will be July 24 and July 25 at 6 p.m.

Lammert said he acted because there are people in Thomaston who purchased tickets for the performances that had been scheduled for Rockland and he did not want to disappoint those families.

The Rockland Council’s vote to reject a permit for Zerbini Family Circus to have two shows at Snow Marine Park next week came after two residents – Callie Black and Kendall Merriam – voiced concerns about the treatment of animals.

The circus expressed its disappointment about the Rockland Council’s decision and defended its treatment of animals in a post on its Facebook page Wednesday morning.

“We want to fight this and we need your help,” the circus said in a post it made before Lammert announced the two shows were moving to Thomaston. “We ask that you contact your city representatives and let them know that you want the circus to perform in Rockland, don’t let two people decide what kind of entertainment you can enjoy.

“They didn’t even give us the option to perform in Rockland last minute without any animals in the performance; the only animals that we have in the show are ponies, dogs and miniature donkeys and we can assure you that they are loved and well taken care of, they are a part of our family.”

The Harbor Management Commission had recommended back on Jan. 15 that the circus be allowed to use the South End waterfront park for July 24 and July 25.

City Manager Tom Luttrell acknowledged at the meeting Tuesday night that the application had fallen through the cracks and as a result the City Council received the permit request only one week before the scheduled dates. He said a new system would be put in place so that it would not happen again.

Councilors Valli Geiger, Ben Dorr, and Amelia Magjik voted against granting the permit. Mayor Lisa Westkaemper and Ed Glaser voted for it.

Magjik said she was surprised by the request and the lack of advanced notice, and decided to listen to the concerns of the residents who spoke.

Glaser said that while he agrees that the time for circuses that use animals should be over, he has researched the Zerbini Family Circus’ track record and found no violations of animal rights.

“If we’re going to have a circus this is one of the better ones,” Glaser said.

The circus has been advertising the two performances that it had planned for the city. The circus has been in Massachusetts and has Maine performances planned for Phippsburg on Thursday, Cumberland on Friday, Minot on Saturday, Bridgton on Sunday and Wiscasset on Tuesday before the two shows that have been moved to Thomaston.

 


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