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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Shrine Circus Elephant Ride Injures 12 Kids

Written by PETA | March 9, 2009
portland / CC
Elephant in a circus

Twelve children were treated by paramedics on Saturday when an elephant who was being forced to give rides at the Indiana State Fairgrounds bumped into the mobile staircase on which kids stood awaiting rides, knocking it down. The rides were being given between performances of the Murat Shrine Circus. Luckily, the kids only suffered minor injuries, but people involved in other elephant-ride incidents haven’t been so lucky.

The staircase collapse isn’t the first dangerous incident involving an elephant used by a Shrine Circus. In 2005, a trainer working for the Shrine Circus in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was stomped to death as he loaded elephants onto a trailer. In 2003, an elephant at the Shrine Circus in Muskegon, Michigan, escaped from a tent and fled into a busy downtown area. In 2002, two elephants with the Shrine Circus in Dunn County, Wisconsin, bolted out of a circus tent, scattering frightened circusgoers.

In other Shrine Circus news, we’ve learned that an exhibitor whose bears were used during a Shrine Circus performance last year at Knox County Middle School in Tennessee was cited by the USDA for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including seating people within 20 feet of the bear without a barrier of any kind. We’ve written a letter to the school principal urging him to ban circuses with animal acts from appearing on school grounds in the future.

Many people don’t realize that the Shriners do not operate their own circus. Shrine temples either hire an existing circus or put together a collection of animal exhibitors and other acts that perform under the Shrine Circus name. Many of the animal exhibitors the Shriners hire have deplorable records of animal care. Click here to read our factsheet on the Shrine Circus.

People, run—don’t walk—away from any circus that uses animals. And whatever you do, don’t let any guy in a fez talk you into placing your tots on the back of some poor elephant whose own kids have been taken away from her and who now spends her days being chained up and jabbed with a bullhook. Today just might be the day she snaps. And really, who could blame her?

Written by Alisa Mullins

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  • Nikusha says:

    I’m kind of glad. People shouldn’t be riding on elephants anyways! All the elephant knows is to protect it’s self from harm and those little kids were probably screaming making the elephant scared. If I had a child I would never let my kid go on an animal for my child and the animals sake.

  • Janice Nicol says:

    This is extremely sad. I was at AFRICAN LION SAFARI in Cambridge Ontario Canada today where they boost that they enslave the largest herd of Asian elephants in North America. Three of these majestic animals were reduced to walking around and around in a small enclosure while up to four people ride on their backs at $5 per ride. These animals should not be enslaved for entertainment purposes! I am still sickened by the fact that I went there today and my money has gone to supporting this activity. I also note that in the Lion section people in trucks would drive towards the Lions sleeping under shade enclosures to get them to get up so that we could see them. This is a horrible place for animals to be and although they seem to have awards etc. they are cruel to the animals that they have imprisioned.

  • Bailey says:

    I happen to be a zoologist at that I live in michigan. Maybe you people should think how well these animals have it. The zoo is worse for them then the circus. If people do not like what happens when you are around animals then don’t get close to them. Children want to learn about animals and see them up close that is for mommy and daddy to decide. Even with dogs there is a chance of something happening. One day people will relize that.

  • Chris loves animals says:

    I agree 100 that circuses must be stopped. I have been a supporter of PETA for a long time. I am confused though I like in Knox County in Tennessee and there is no “Knox County Middle School”. Our county has a large population and we have about 12 middle schools. Which school was the incident at?

  • Pepsi One is Fun says:

    I’m going to be honest. While I don’t go to circuses and feel sorry for elephants in this case I feel sorry for the kids who were injured than the darned elephant. P

  • Ricky says:

    Shrine is part of Freemasonry. I used to be a Freemason till I got no where trying to voice my issues with animal abuse. They are hypocrites that much is true. Glad to be done with them.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    Every time I see children riding an elephant at these events I remember Janet the elephant who one day decided she had had enough and with small helpless passengers on her back went on a rampage which ended only when she was killed by a police officer. The officer states he hears her crys to this day.

  • brandie says:

    When I was young my parents took us to the circus. Not the one mentioned above but another famous circus company. So I can understand the fascination with seeing animals you otherwise wouldn’t see on a typical day. However I also understand that any animal has the potential to attack when feeling intimiated or threatened. It doesn’t sound like this elephant attacked on purpose or out of instinct he simply knocked down some stairs. I bet those people will end up trying to sue the circus. When people are around animals that are wild things will certainly happen. You get what you ask for. I am pretty sure I rode on an elephants back when I was very little. It’s a frightening thing for a child and for the animals. When an animal attaacks it puts them in a bad light with the public. When really the animal is only doing what it knows. I feel bad for the circus animals.

  • Julie says:

    This is really sad!

  • kelly says:

    Elephant rides? Just how crazy are the Shriners? Hurting kids while claiming to help them. What a bunch of hypocrites

  • Joanna says:

    Get all elephants out of circuses. They deserve a good life with adequate space and food and the company of their friends. Circus is torture!

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