Lions Club Under Fire for Hosting Animal-Exploiting Circus

PETA Calls On Rock Hall Chapter to Respect Lions Club International’s Wish and Cancel Appearance by Zerbini Family Circus

For Immediate Release:
May 5, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

PETA has sent an urgent letter calling on the Rock Hall Lions Club to cancel plans to host the Zerbini Family Circus on Friday. In the letter, PETA points out that Lions Club International has issued a statement encouraging its clubs to “refrain from fundraising activities that exploit or cause harm to animals”—and circuses that use camels and horses confine them to cramped pens, transport them from town to town, and force them to perform tricks under threat of punishment. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—also notes that escaped camels present a serious and even deadly public-safety hazard.

“The only reason camels perform difficult and confusing tricks is because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t,” says PETA Foundation Captive Animal Law Enforcement Counsel Rachel Mathews. “Lions Club International is committed to protecting animals, and PETA is calling on the Rock Hall chapter to do the same by canceling this exploitative and dangerous circus performance.”

For more information, please visit

PETA’s letter to Rock Hall Lions Club President Debra Woodruff-Capper follows.

May 4, 2016

Debra Woodruff-Capper, President, Rock Hall Lions Club

Dear Ms. Woodruff-Capper:

I am writing on behalf of PETA and its more than 3 million members and supporters to urge you to cancel an appearance by the Zerbini Family Circus, which the Rock Hall Lions Club plans to host on Friday. PETA has received complaints from members of your community who are shocked that their local Lions Club is supporting cruelty, which is inherent to all circuses that use animals, and we ask that you respect Lions Clubs International’s wish that its clubs “refrain from fundraising activities that exploit or cause harm to animals” and cancel the show.

The Zerbini Family Circus routinely exploits camels and horses as part of its act. These animals would normally spend their days grazing and socializing, but in the circus, they’re tethered or confined to cramped pens. In addition, they’re often skittish and unpredictable and can present a serious public-safety hazard if they become frightened or escape. Last year, a camel trampled two people to death on a farm in Texas. Also, in 2013, an escaped camel attacked a man, and one month later, an escaped camel reportedly killed a man at a wildlife center.

Animals in circuses are forced to endure pain and neglect for a few fleeting moments of so-called “entertainment” for circusgoers. Animals do not voluntarily perform ridiculous and difficult tricks—they do so because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t. Trainers use whips and other tools of the trade to inflict pain on the animals and intimidate them. Young wild animals such as big cats and elephants are routinely taken from their protective mothers, and as vulnerable youngsters, their spirits are broken by being hit, jabbed, whipped, and beaten into submission. The constant travel inherent to circuses also means that animals are often confined to trailers or small pens for days or even weeks at a time in all weather extremes and forced to eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and urinate all in the same small space.

Since Ringling Bros. has officially ended its elephant acts and SeaWorld has announced an end to its sordid orca-breeding program, it has never been clearer that the public is against abusive animal performances. Please join other progressive sponsors, such as the Fountain City Lions Club in Tennessee, by canceling cruel animal acts and respect Lions Clubs International’s wish by not hosting any more animal acts.

May I please hear from you right away that you’ve decided to cancel the animal acts? Thank you for your careful consideration.

Very truly yours,

Rachel Mathews
Counsel | Captive Animal Law Enforcement

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

Get the Latest Tips—Right in Your Inbox
We’ll e-mail you weekly with the latest in vegan recipes, fashion, and more!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.