LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A longtime battle between circus organizers and animal rights activists has returned to Los Angeles.

KNX 1070’s Megan Goldsby reports this time around, officials with the Ringling Brothers And Barnum & Bailey Circus are pushing back against allegations of animal abuse.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey “Built To Amaze!” show features 110 performers hailing from 17 countries working alongside nearly 100 exotic and domestic animals — a practice that Katie Arth with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) describes as “cruel.”

“They’re forced to live their whole lives traveling in boxcars or being chained down in arenas, and then being beaten to perform painful and confusing tricks,” Arth said.

Members of PETA along with Animal Defenders International, In Defense of Animals, Animal Protection and Rescue League and Last Chance Animals supporters were expected to rally at STAPLES Center against the use of animals in the Ringling Brothers circus act.

Animal rights groups have staged similar protests at past Ringling Brothers shows in L.A., including a 2011 event that protesters greeted with what was then dubbed the “biggest circus protest on Earth.”

However, Ringling Brothers spokesman Stephen Payne says PETA and other activist groups appear to be unaware of behind-the-scenes efforts made by the company to save the animals who perform in its shows, some of which are highly endangered.

“We have the largest herd of Asian elephants in the Northern Hemisphere, and we’re able to learn more and more about those animals every year,” Payne said. “We use that to improve our care and our work.”

The “Built To Amaze!” show runs through July 16 at STAPLES Center.

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