Media Invite: Largest Shrine Circus Producer in the U.S. Ends Wild-Animal Acts

PETA and Bill Cunningham to Hold Historic News Conference Calling On All Shrine Circuses to End Elephant, Lion, and Tiger Acts

For Immediate Release:
August 31, 2015

Contact:
Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Dallas – Once used to haul big cats across the country, an empty trailer has been transformed into a billboard announcing an end to the circus acts its former occupants once appeared in. Bill Cunningham—Dallas native and owner of Fun Time Shows, Inc., the largest Shrine circus producer in the country—will join PETA in front of the trailer for a news conference to announce that he’ll no longer produce shows featuring elephants, tigers, lions, or other wild animals. Cunningham, a Shriner for his entire adult life, will call on his fellow Shriners to end all wild-animal acts. Members of the media will be invited to tour the trailer to see the cages that were used to confine tigers as they zigzagged across the country, jumping through fiery hoops and attempting to avoid the tamer’s whip.

When:       Tuesday, September 1, 12 p.m.

Where:     Robert E. Lee Park, 3333 Turtle Creek Blvd. The trailer will be parked near the entrance to Arlington Hall at Lee Park on Lee Parkway between N. Hall and Rawlins streets, Dallas.

Cunningham produces circus shows in 100 cities every year. The Shrine circus in Garland, Texas, which performs from September 11 to 13, will be the first of his shows to be free of wild animals.

“The Shrine circus creates lasting memories for millions of American families each year, so we are proud to be an agent of change by helping the Shrine circus evolve to be in alignment with the standards of today’s modern families. For our company, those standards mean producing appropriate forms of circus entertainment for today’s audiences, which includes no longer exhibiting wild animals,” says Cunningham. “We decided the best thing we could do is lead by example. There are so many wonderfully talented acts for us to wow our fans with it just makes no sense to hold on to stubborn held beliefs. Today is a new day, and we intend to uphold a standard of never having anything in our shows that would cause a mother not to want to bring her family to the circus.”

“This move means that hundreds of Shrine circuses will never again feature wild animals who are denied all semblance of a natural life in the circus, kept chained and caged, and electro-shocked and beaten into performing,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “As more people object to the use of animals in circuses, PETA is calling on Shrine circuses nationwide to follow this example of positive change.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—has gathered extensive video and photographic evidence showing circus trainers and handlers as they jab elephants, including babies, with bullhooks (weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp metal hook on one end). Circuses keep elephants, tigers, and other animals on the road for up to 50 weeks a year, and when they aren’t being used in performances, they’re usually shackled in chains or locked away inside cramped cages.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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“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