‘Keep Elephants out of Circus,’ PETA Tells Shriners

Group Rallies Supporters to Demand That Québec Chapter Insist That Notoriously Dangerous Exhibitor Leave Elephants out of the Show

For Immediate Release:
August 6, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

LaSalle, Québec – Illustrious Potentate Sir Gilles Lecompte of the Karnak Shriners in Québec is about to get an earful. That’s because PETA has posted an action alert on its popular website asking visitors to contact the Shriners and insist that the exhibitor hired for the Shrine circus in LaSalle from August 14 to 24 not include elephants. The Tarzan Zerbini Circus, which is performing as the “Shrine Circus,” has a lengthy history of animal welfare violations, including keeping an elephant constantly chained, keeping elephants in an area with a solid-waste pile approximately 8 feet wide and 4 feet tall, allowing excrement to flow into a pond that elephants had direct access to, and feeding elephants an unhealthy diet of nothing but bread, hay, and weeds. Elephants used in circuses are typically beaten, hit, prodded, and jabbed with bullhooks—weapons with a sharp metal hook on one end—sometimes until bloody.

“The Karnak Shriners pride themselves on being responsible members of the community, but there’s nothing responsible about supporting animal abuse and public endangerment,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “There’s no reason why the show can’t go on without the use of tormented and potentially deadly elephants.”

There have been six confirmed serious elephant attacks associated with the Tarzan Zerbini Circus and Patty Zerbini, the elephant handler and trainer for the Shrine shows, resulting in at least two deaths. Most recently, an elephant exhibited by Patty Zerbini grabbed the arm of a woman with his trunk and pulled her into the metal bars of his enclosure, resulting in a collapsed lung, liver and kidney lacerations, damage to her spleen, broken ribs, and a broken wrist.

The elephants the Tarzan Zerbini Circus plans to use in LaSalle have been exposed to the human strain of tuberculosis (TB), which elephants can easily transmit to humans, even without direct contact. The circus previously used three elephants in Ontario who subsequently were removed from Canada after it came to light that they had been in prolonged contact with a TB-positive elephant.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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