PETA to Pike County Schools: Say ‘No’ to Shrine Circus Tickets

Group Cites Circus Exhibitors' History of Abusing Animals, Placing Kids at Risk of Injury

For Immediate Release:
January 23, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Pike County, Ohio – This morning, PETA’s humane-education division, TeachKind, sent urgent letters calling on Pike County schools to decline the Pike County Shrine Club’s offer of free circus tickets to fourth-grade classes. In its letters, TeachKind points out that it’s inappropriate for schools to support circuses that use animals. In particular, elephants used by circuses are routinely beaten with bullhooks (weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp steel hook on one end) to force them to perform. The group also points to a list of injuries and deaths caused by frustrated animals who have lashed out and hurt handlers and spectators at Shrine circuses.

“Schools should teach kids to respect and empathize with others, not that it’s OK to use and abuse animals for ‘entertainment,'” says PETA Director of Youth Outreach and Campaigns Marta Holmberg. “TeachKind wants teachers and parents to know that circuses are a sad and dangerous place to take students, especially impressionable, young elementary school students.”

The various Shrine circuses across the country get animals from exhibitors that are notorious for repeatedly violating the animal-care and public-safety standards of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including for failing to provide animals with adequate veterinary care and for allowing unsupervised contact between elephants and spectators, including children. In one public-safety incident, a dozen children were injured during a Shrine circus performance when one elephant charged at another, causing her to knock down the staircase on which the children stood awaiting rides.

TeachKind’s letter to Pike County schools is available upon request. For more information, please visit

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Media Response Team.


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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