PHOTOS: Protests of the Carden Circus in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Protesters gathered outside the JQH Arena for the second straight day as the Carden International Circus returns to Springfield.

The Carden Circus has been a staple in Springfield for more than 50 years. They tour the country providing entertainment with animal acts and acrobats.

Outside the arena, protesters were outnumbered by circus-goers, but they didn't let that discourage them from making their concerns heard.

"They did not choose this life of enslavement and exploitation and just know you can be their voice and by boycotting the circus you can advocate for an animal-free circus as well," said Jessica Albright, an organizer of the protests.

Brett Carden, co-owner of the circus says there is a misconception when it comes to the circuses animals.

"Just because we have animals doesn't mean that we abuse them, just like we don't think everybody abuses their children," said Carden.

But, protesters were not convinced.

"I would encourage you to ask Carden what a bullhook is, it's actually a sharp instrument with an edge on it, it's like a razor and they beat the elephant with it in some very sensitive areas," said Albright.

"Its, not a tool to torture the animals, its more of a guide, we don't have any leashes on the elephants, its all voice commands," said Carden.

"We encourage them to use empathy because when you look into the elephant's eyes, you can tell they are sad, they are depressed, they are not mentally healthy," said Albright.

"All the animals get inspected every 30 days, even sometimes twice a month because depending on the state we are going to a vet will have to come out, he checks all their temperatures, he checks all their stools and checks to make sure they are very healthy animals," said Carden.

Protesters insist they do not want to destroy anyone from having a good time, they just want people to do their own research when it comes to animal welfare.

"There are circuses that don't use animals and they are just as successful," said Albright.

Protests are set for the following times this weekend:

Friday, Feb 7th : 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb 8th : 1 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb 9th : 12 p.m., 4:30 p.m.