Video: Shriner Granddaughter Confronts Group Over Cruel Animal Circuses

Shriners Grab, Shove Peaceful Protesters

For Immediate Release:
July 2, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Nashville, Tenn. – This afternoon at the Shriners’ open-to-the-public “Future of Circuses” talk at the Music City Center, Suzannah Smith—who’s the granddaughter of a Shriner—took over the microphone to take the group to task over its continued use of circuses that feature animal acts, before being removed by security. Video footage of the disruption is available here.

“Have you seen the videos of the bears being whipped in the face with metal rods?” Smith asks the crowd. “This is abuse. This is unacceptable, and this is cruel!” As she was speaking, a Shriner grabbed her by the wrist, and another woman who was filming the speech was also grabbed and shoved by one of the Shriners.

The embattled Shriners have recently come under fire after an animal behavior expert documented the rampant psychological abuse, neglect, and coercion of the animals he observed at Shrine circuses in an explosive 68-page report. Today’s action comes just two days after PETA led a spirited protest outside the Shriners International Imperial Session, which was also held at the Music City Center.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
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