Will Horses Drive Rolling Stones Away?

The Rolling Stones are certainly no strangers to controversy, but, even for them, the accusation that one of their concerts could inflict unnecessary cruelty on animals is a little surprising.

And, no, they are not planning a live chicken eating feast a la Alice Cooper.

The British band will play this summer in Serbia's capital of Belgrade. The location for the concert is the Hippodrome, home to 300 of Serbia's finest performing horses.

The Hippodrome's managers have proposed sedating the animals so they will not be disturbed by the July 14 gig that is expected to attract more than 100,000 fans.

This has enraged animal rights activists. ORCA, the Organization for Respect and Care of Animals, the largest animal protection group in Serbia, said that the noise and vibrations of the concert would be extremely harmful to the horses but that sedating them is not the answer.

"Surely Belgrade is a big city and has enough open spaces where more than 100,000 people can fit. We think the Hippodrome should be left to horses," Elvir Burazerovic, head of ORCA told ABCNEWS.com.

Those directly involved with the Hippodrome are more relaxed about the affair. Hippodrome director Jovanka Prelic said:

"We are not too worried, although it is not ideal, they survived NATO bombings so I guess they will survive the Rolling stones, and in any case, we will give them drugs to make sure they do not get too upset."

The event organizer, Raka Maric, has reportedly been asked by the Rolling Stones' people to clarify what is happening with the horses. He now plans to offer all the owners paid-for relocation of their animals during the concert.

"I would prefer to have my horse sedated than panicked and stressed," said Vladimir Scepanovic, a proud owner of Cleopatra, a beautiful Arab horse.

ORCA said that if it fails to persuade the organizers to move the concert from the Hippodrome, it would appeal directly to the Stones -- including Mick Jagger. "I am sure that such a reputable band will try to influence the organizers to change," Maric added.

Controversy has plagued the Rolling Stones' concerts in the past. In 1969, the Stones were performing at the infamous Altamont Free Concert in California when a fan near the stage was killed after an altercation with bikers from the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang hired by the concert promoter.

This summer will be the third time that the Stones have attempted to play in Serbia. Two previous shows planned for the country were canceled. Organizers hope the "stoned horses" don't drive them away.

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