PITTSBURGH (AP) – Pittsburgh City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Darlene Harris is defending a Facebook picture of herself riding a circus elephant.

Harris says she posted the picture of the Shrine Circus elephant and another of her riding a camel because she “thought they were cute.” The circus was at PPG Paints Arena over the weekend.

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The Democrat, who is running against Mayor Bill Peduto in the primary, rejected critics’ claims that circus animals are abused saying, “Those animals are taken care of better than some people take care of people.”

The pictures drew support and criticism, with some saying she embarrassed the city or exploited the animals.

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Harris says council members were invited to a circus tour after Council President Bruce Kraus sponsored an ordinance to ban shows featuring trained animals. Harris opposes the measure.

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