Wilmer Valderrama Says, ‘Never Take Your Family to a Circus’

You know him as Fez from That 70s show, and now you’ll know Wilmer Valderrama as the kind-hearted, gorgeous actor who is sticking up for animals abused in the circus. The charming actor took the time to star in a new public service announcement (PSA) for PETA in order to draw attention to the plight of animals in circuses. A Spanish-language version of this heartfelt message will begin airing in Puerto Rico when Ringling Bros. arrives there in March 2009.

In the PSA, Wilmer takes viewers behind the scenes of the big top for a look at the lives of animals abused in circuses. “Trainers often force elephants, bears, tigers, and other animals to perform physically difficult and confusing tricks by beating them with sharp metal hooks, whips, and shocking them with electric prods,” says Wilmer.

The actor, also known for his starring role in the critically acclaimed PETA favorite Fast Food Nation, wants everyone to know that animals in the circus are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them. In their native environments, the same animals you see wearing costumes, riding bikes, and performing tricks would be free to walk, run, and roam as they pleased. But when they’re not performing, most circus animals are kept in chains – often unable to take a step – or confined to cramped pens and cages that are so small that they hardly have enough room to turn around.

While filming the PSA, Wilmer introduced us to his loving dog, Spawn, and answered a few questions about PETA and his hopes for the future. Wilmer said that even as a small child growing up in Venezuela, he was aware that something about using animals in circuses was not right. “A lot of our small towns where I lived in there were a lot of circuses that would come in and out, and it was always a lot more depressing than fun, you know, because you started noticing a lot of the scars on [the animals’] legs, a lot of the hair was removed, and, you know, as a kid it was hard to wonder, you know, how they got those scars – that they were forced to do things by fear.” Now, Wilmer says that he’ll never attend another circus that includes live animals.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind