On December 10, four days before the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was scheduled to arrive at the John Paul Jones Arena, a lone tiger stood, confidently, at Central Place on the Downtown Mall. Slowly, she tread toward the pen. The moist air hugged her spotted coat.
She took a few more steps forward. Cautious. And then, the two women standing close to her ushered her into the empty cage. Empty, save for a towel placed on its floor to cushion her knees. She looked around; her dark eyes searching faces in the crowd and she stepped closer to the cage door.
Pamphlets detailing the circus’ animal abuse held limply in onlookers’ hands, we waited. The two women picked up their posters and the tiger’s lean body bent downward as she ducked her head in the cage, carefully inching her way inside. The cold door closed behind the painted woman—naked, save for a few acrylic stripes—and she held up a sign that read, “Wild animals don’t belong behind bars.” At that moment, Christina Dang was not just a PETA protester. At that moment, in front of all the confused passersby, she was a one-woman circus of her own.