Shrine Circuses Land Number Seven Spot on PETA’s List of the Eight Worst Circuses in the U.S.

History of Beatings and Dangerous Elephant and Tiger Escapes Earns Dishonor for Cruel Circuses

For Immediate Release:
May 11, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Tampa, Fla.

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen: If you want cruelty to animals and public endangerment, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—can tell you where to find it, in the form of its first-ever list of the Top Eight Worst Circuses in the U.S. Shrine circuses—which contract with notorious circuses from across the country, almost all of which have records of neglecting and abusing animals—rank number seven on the list. Shriners International’s headquarters is based in Tampa.

“Shriners from coast to coast have worked with exhibitors who beat and neglect the elephants, tigers, and other animals used in their shows,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA’s message to families is that if you care about animals or your children’s safety, you should never buy a ticket to Shrine circuses or any other circuses that use animals.”

Shrine circus exhibitors’ history of abusing animals and violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is lengthy. Just last month, the big-cat exhibitor with a Shrine circus in Springfield, Missouri, was cited for five AWA violations—including endangering the public, denying tigers adequate space and exercise, and transporting animals in a filthy vehicle with a “foul odor,” flies, maggots, and a build-up of what appeared to be hair, food waste, and excreta. Last year, multiple eye witnesses reported that dogs were punched and kicked in the face during a Shrine circus performance. One Shrine exhibitor was cited for failing to provide adequate veterinary care to an aging, underweight, and deformed elephant. And the circuses also have a history of dangerous animal escapes: Last year, three elephants broke free from the children’s ride area of a Shrine circus and ran amok for nearly an hour, and in 2013, a Shrine circusgoer came face-to-face with an adult tiger in the women’s restroom.

The circuses rounding out PETA’s list include: Ringling Bros., UniverSoul Circus, Carson & Barnes Circus, Cole Bros. Circus, Kelly Miller Circus, George Carden Circus International, and Jordan World Circus.

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