Victory: Melha Shrine Nixes Animal Circus

Shriners Nab Vegan Chocolates in Thanks for Business-Savvy Decision

For Immediate Release:
March 22, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Springfield, Mass. – After PETA urged the Melha Shrine—which had started using animals in its circus again two years ago—to recommit to having human-only shows, the organization discontinued its animal circus, in part because of declining attendance. In thanks, PETA is sending the Melha Shriners a box of delicious elephant-shaped vegan chocolates.

“At a time when people everywhere are demanding human-only performances, the Melha Shrine’s decision to nix its cruel and archaic animal circus is right on trend,” says PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “PETA looks forward to seeing these abusive spectacles banished to the history books in Massachusetts and around the world.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is the human-supremacist viewpoint that animals are ours to breed, sell, or display for profit or amusement. The group has documented that circus handlers routinely whip tigers and jab elephants with bullhooks (weapons that resemble fireplace pokers with a sharp metal hook on one end). Animal-based circuses keep 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 inside cramped cages. Many animal exhibitors with Shrine circuses—such as the notorious Tarzan Zerbini Circus, Carden International Circus, and Carson & Barnes Circus—have lengthy records of violating animal-welfare laws.

The Missoula Shrine Circus dropped wild-animal acts, Shrine circuses in Canada haven’t used wild animals in years, the Orillia Shrine Club abandoned its longtime circus and instead held an Oktoberfest fundraiser, and last year, the Jerusalem Shrine announced its decision not to host animal circuses again.

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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