You know the circus is in town when the elephants leave the trains marching through the streets of Norfolk to Scope. You know Ringling Brothers-The Greatest Show on Earth is in town when the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals--or PETA--is handing out coloring books titled "Animals Belong in the Jungle."
Melissa Davis's 10-year-old goes to Larrymore Elementary, and Davis wants PETA to remember the 'ethical' in PETA. "I think it is unethical for them to approach children without parents' permission to push their propaganda on them."
Larrymore Elementary Principal Tom McAnulty confronted the PETA protesters.
"My only issue was this is an elementary school," he said. "I went out and spoke to them and asked them to handout the coloring books only to parents."
McAnulty also brings up the point children are taught not to talk to or take things from strangers.
"We don't know you, the parents don't know you, and some of them would prefer not to have the materials distributed," he said.
WAVY.com confronted PETA about this practice. Spokesperson Pulin Modi says, "The circus has a history of targeting kids, and making money off them, and all we are doing is trying to raise awareness of cruelty to animals."
The difference is, however, Ringling does its work at Scope, and PETA did its work at a local school.
Critics argue PETA pushed a political agenda to vulnerable children.
"You can call it what you will. What we are doing is spreading a message of compassion and awareness," Modi said.
Ringling Brothers sent this statement from Spokesman Crystal Drake:"Ringling Brothers considers it shameful for any activist group to approach children at or near their schools as schools are meant to be a safe place for children. One sided and potentially scary materials like these are unfortunate tactics. We welcome Norfolk to the Scope to see first hand and learn more about our excellent animal care."