RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – We've uncovered a warning for Richmond parents. Your kids might be exposed to some disturbing images when they leave school Wednesday afternoon. An elephant mascot, with a bloody bandage around its head will be outside Carver Elementary School. It's part of a PETA protest against the circus.
The school is not far from the coliseum where Ringling Brothers Circus is performing later this month. PETA will not be allowed on the school grounds. We're told they will be on the public sidewalk near where the kids leave.
"Ele the elephant" is a plush cartoon mascot with a head wound. According to PETA, Ele is just like the animals used in the circus.
"Our demonstration is just a peaceful way to let kids and parents know that when they buy tickets to the circus, they're supporting an industry that routinely abuses animals," said campaigner Lauren Stroyeck.
When school lets out, Ele will be handing out activity books with mazes, coloring pages, word searches and a story. They all have the same message: "animals belong in the jungle."
Annette Jackson lives across the street from Carver. Her two grandkids could walk past the PETA protest. We showed her what they'd see.
"It's harmful to them," she said. "They shouldn't be seeing stuff like that."
Richmond schools officials just found out about the event Tuesday afternoon. It was too late to send a note home with students so they sent out a message on the Parentlink email system explaining the situation. It says: "Please be aware this activity is not affiliated with Richmond Public Schools."
Some parents told us they think the event could traumatize young kids. Carver even has pre-k students. PETA maintains Ele is kid friendly.
"It's a very positive way of reaching out to people," explained Stroyeck.
Still, Jackson is changing her grandkids' plans for after school.
"I will be going to the school to get them so they will not be seeing this elephant with the bloody band-aid," she said.
PETA will only have one person with Ele. She told NBC12 they will not force anything on anyone.
Our education specialist, Dr. Bill Bosher, said this might not be the best strategy and could have unintended consequences for the kids.