Safety measures questioned as circus arrives in Louisville - News, Weather & Sports

Safety measures questioned as circus arrives in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey trotted into Louisville, safety concerns remained at the forefront of many parents' minds following a horrific May 4 accident in Rhode Island that sent nine of the circus acrobats to the hospital.

The Providence performance turned horror show in a matter of seconds when an aerial platform collapsed mid-routine. While circus staff dimmed the house lights almost immediately as emergency crews scrambled to help the injured acrobats, families remained shocked in their seats.

While closer to Louisville event safety inspections are often the responsibility of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, agency representatives said the circus and its animals are off limits.

"Normally in a circus situation, it's the performers that are putting themselves at risk. It's not the general public, so that does not fall under what we're required or responsible to for inspecting," said Steve Kelly, deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. "There's times where circuses allow children to ride camels or elephants or whatever that is and that is exempt from the department by regulation."

Instead, safety checks fall on the shoulders the circus itself.

According to Ashley Varga, a pre-show host for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the circus tours three different units that are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. By phone, Vargas said the group touring in Louisville was not the unit involved in the May 4 accident. Vargas went on to say that particular act had been taken out and safety measures had been beefed up.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will kick off its first show in Louisville on Thursday, May 15 at 7 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center. The circus will continue to perform in Louisville through Sunday.

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