Bears should not be dressed up in ridiculous costumes, muzzled, dragged around on leashes, or forced to balance on balls, climb stairs on their front paws, and ride bicycles. But that’s precisely what exhibitor Castle’s Bears does to these majestic animals—and the Shrine circuses that hire it are one big reason why it stays in business. PETA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) after a bear urinated on herself in apparent distress during a Shrine circus performance earlier this year:
We contacted Shrine chapters that use circuses as fundraisers and asked them to contract with only willing human performers. But this weekend, the Midian Shrine in Wichita, Kansas, is putting on a circus with Castle’s Bears and other abusive exhibitors—so PETA has been outside with an eye-catching display to show people what their ticket purchase is really funding:
The Wichita circus will also include forced performances by tigers and elephants owned by the notorious Franzen Bros. Circus. It’s hard to count how many times the USDA has cited Franzen Bros. for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act: One elephant handler was caught forcefully striking an elephant named Kosti with a bullhook—a sharp steel-tipped weapon resembling a fireplace poker—at least five times around her eyes and ears. The current owner, Brian Franzen, was convicted of cruelty to animals after authorities confiscated several emaciated ponies from him. And a tiger attacked and killed Franzen’s father—the circus’s former owner, Wayne Franzen—during a performance.
Wild animals don’t perform meaningless and confusing tricks for fleeting human amusement because they want to—they do it out of fear of the beating that they’ll receive if they don’t. It’s time for Shrine circuses to get animals out of the act.
What You Can Do
Help shut down animal exhibitors by refusing to buy a ticket to their shows. And tell Castle’s Bears to end these demeaning tricks and release the bears to sanctuaries.