Kora Shriners get their photo taken in front of the Elephant rides at the 64th Kora Shrine Circus at the Colisee in Lewiston on Friday, April 14, 2017. The circus will continue on Saturday.

PORTLAND — An annual circus is making its way through Maine, bringing along performing elephants and reigniting controversy about their use.

The Portland Press Herald reports that a small group of protesters gathered Wednesday outside a show in Portland, accusing the Kora Shrine Circus of abusing animals. But supporters say the animals are treated well and boost attendance at the events, which are put on by a New Jersey-based company. They argue that dropping them could ultimately mean less money for children’s hospitals supported by the Shriners.

The performances coincide with some of the last shows by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The nation’s most famous circus announced it would close for good months after eliminating elephants from its shows.

Maine lawmakers are considering banning the use elephants in public performances.

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