Sheryl Lee, star of Kingpin and formerly of TV’s Twin Peaks and L.A. Doctors, earned her stripes the hard way: It took eight hours to have them painted on for her latest ad for PETA.
Leopards may not be able to change their spots, but Sheryl hopes circuses and zoos will change their ways if enough people urge them to.
“When I was a kid, I begged my parents to take me to the circus because I loved to see the elephants,” says Sheryl. “I had no idea they were treated so poorly. These amazing creatures should be walking 20 miles a day, but instead they’re locked up…they can’t even turn around.” Sheryl abhors the fact that in circuses, roadside zoos and other traveling acts, animals are stolen from their natural homes and families; elephants, tigers, monkeys and other “animal entertainers” are beaten, whipped and prodded to perform unnatural and often frightening acts. These unfortunate animals spend most of their lives in chains and cramped cages and being shipped from pillar to post in a dirty truck or train.
Of the 244 elephants currently in circuses and zoos in the U.S., only 23 were captive-bred; the rest were torn from their native habitats.
On a visit to the 800-acre nonprofit Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, Sheryl helped clean out the elephants’ stalls and give them baths. Her goal is “to learn as much as I possibly can about these wonderful animals so that I can educate others about why they should not be in captivity.”
The most moving part of Sheryl’s sanctuary visit was watching the elephants play in the vast fields. “As soon as Tarra [one of the rescued residents] got outside, she trumpeted a few times and then she started to purr. I have never heard a more beautiful and joyful sound. It was the sound of freedom.”