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Celebrity Go Daddy spokesmodel Jillian Michaels has led a protest against circuses' unethical treatment of elephants, just a few months after company chairman Bob Parsons came under fire for shooting one dead while on holiday.

Fitness trainer Michaels attended a demo against the Ringling Brothers' Circus outside the Los Angeles Staples Center this Wednesday, organised by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA awarded Go Daddy founder Parsons its inaugural "scummiest CEO" award in March, after he posted a video online showing him hunting and killing an elephant while on vacation in Zimbabwe.

Parsons' motives – which he described as "humanitarian" – split commentators, but most questioned the tone of the video, particularly a segment in which dozens of Zimbabwean villagers, many wearing Go Daddy baseball caps, butchered the elephant's corpse to an AC/DC soundtrack.

PETA tried to organise a boycott of Go Daddy's services, but the scandal is believed to have caused Go Daddy's base of domain name registrations to increase.

While the original video – described as an "elephant snuff film" – was yanked and replaced with one slightly more tasteful, Parsons himself was unapologetic during subsequent TV appearances, including an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan.

On his Twitter feed, Parsons continued to highlight PETA's own questionable track record on animal welfare as recently as last month.

Best known in America for training obese contestants on the TV show The Biggest Loser, Michaels has been on Go Daddy's roster of "Go Daddy Girls" since last September, appearing in commercials and on the company's website.

"These animals should be allowed to live as nature intended – free from beatings, chains, and screaming crowds," Michaels said in a PETA statement ahead of the protest.

The irony was first noted yesterday by Domain Name Wire.

Ringling Brothers Circus has come under fire over its treatment of animals in the US recently, following the publication by PETA of photographs showing baby elephants being tied up and electrocuted (disturbing images). ®

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