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(Photo: MGN)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A long-time tradition that comes with the annual North Carolina Azalea Festival fun won’t return to Wilmington this year.

In fact, according to a release from a spokeswoman, festival organizers were told the circus won’t be traveling anywhere this year.

The release went on to say Cole Bros. did not give a specific reason for the decision.

For years, the circus drew crowds to the big-top tent that set up shop with several shows at Wilmington’s International Airport.

This year’s North Carolina Azalea Festival starts April 6.

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  • conservative

    If you feel the need to see clowns, attend a County Commission or City Council meeting. Pure entertainment at the taxpayers’ expense.

  • Beth Dietz

    With all the violations against this circus….how they treat their animals…..it certainly would be good news!!

  • Kim Marie

    This is great news for the animals usually hauled around like cargo and bullied into performing!

  • Lucy Post

    This is great news! There is nothing festive about watching abused and depressed elephants perform confusing and uncomfortable tricks.

  • Rose Louise

    This is great news, as Cole Bros. drags animals across the country, confines them in boxcars and trailers, and beats them into performing. I’m glad they won’t be coming to this festival nor anywhere else this year.

  • Craig Shapiro

    Cole Bros. has a long history of abusing animals. The circus and its owner have pleaded guilty to multiple violations of the Endangered Species Act. The news that it’s not traveling anywhere this year is cause for celebration.

  • Jennofur OConnor

    The Cole Bros. Circus has a long and notorious history of putting animals and the public at risk.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Cole Bros. Circus for numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the circus and its owner have been incurred substantial fines.
    In 2012, the USDA ordered Cole Bros. to pay a civil penalty of $15,000 to settle more than ten AWA violations, and in 2011, Cole Bros. and its president pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act by illegally selling two Asian elephants. The circus was ordered to pay more than $150,000 in fines and the circus’s owner, John Pugh, served three years probation.

    This circus needs to accept that people do not want to see beaten down animals performing stupid tricks and the public does not support hauling animals around the country like freight. Retire the animal acts!

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