For Immediate Release:
August 16, 2023
David Perle 202-483-7382
Lufkin, Texas – Ahead of the Sharon Shrine Circus’ opening performance in Lufkin later this month, PETA fired off a letter this morning to Potentate John Threadgill urging him to leave elephants and other exploited animals out of the show and rely on human showmanship, just as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is now doing. PETA is also hitting local airwaves with a video spot that shows tigers in metal cages and elephants being jabbed with bullhooks—weapons resembling a fireplace poker with a sharp hook on one end—at Shrine circuses.
“Animals have every bit as much right to a real life as any Shriner, but they’re forced to perform stressful tricks in front of noisy crowds in Shrine circus shows,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “This is 2023, not 1923, and PETA is calling on Sharon Shriners to fall in line with numerous other Shrines by showcasing human performers and ditching the animal acts.”
The Sharon Shrine Circus is among the last remaining shows that still use wild animals, who are confined to small crates, kept in shackles, and deprived of any semblance of a natural or happy life. The Sharon Shriners routinely partner with notoriously cruel exhibitors, including Carson & Barnes Circus, which has been cited for more than 100 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and whose head trainer was caught on video violently attacking elephants.
PETA’s campaign to end the Sharon Shrine’s animal exploitation has included a protest outside Threadgill’s home in Flint and a disruption outside the Shrine in Tyler that featured animal allies posing as circus performers in fez hats and “beating” giant inflatable crying elephants. To date, more than 69,000 PETA supporters have contacted the Sharon Shriners urging them to stop using animals in their circuses.
PETA’s TV spot will run 45 times on KETK NBC and 43 times on KFXL FOX through September 4. The group’s request for animal-free shows also applies to Sharon Shrine Circus’ upcoming dates in Nacogdoches, Carthage, Longview, and Tyler.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.