Will the Shrine Circus Feature Frightened Bears?

PETA Urges Cancellation of Act After Video Footage Shows Bear Urinating in Distress During Recent Circus Show

For Immediate Release:
March 13, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Lincoln, Neb. – In advance of this week’s Sesostris Shrine Circus performances, which will reportedly include a bear act, PETA sent a letter this morning alerting the Shriners to viral video footage showing a bear urinating in distress as the animals were tethered, muzzled, prodded, and forced to perform by an exhibitor called Castle’s Bears at a recent Shrine circus performance outside Omaha.

PETA is calling on the Sesostris Shriners to ensure that no bears are forced to perform in Lincoln this week and to pledge not to use any animal acts in future circus shows—a request that it has also made to the Lancaster Event Center, the venue for this week’s shows.

“Dragging sensitive bears from town to town and yanking them around for a circus show should have ended in the Dark Ages,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA is calling on the Sesostris Shriners to ensure that this week’s performances don’t include any tormented wild animals.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—also urged the James Cristy Cole Circus, which produced the Shrine circus outside Omaha and will produce the Sesostris Shrine Circus, to part ways with Castle’s Bears and stop using bears in its performances.

A bear expert who viewed the eyewitness footage noted that the loud music and noisy crowd of a circus performance is inherently distressing to bears. Castle’s Bears also pulls and yanks on leashes and muzzles in order to force the animals to comply, which can cause long-term trauma to bears’ nerves, spines, and muscles.

PETA has offered to arrange transport to a reputable sanctuary for the animals used by Castle’s Bears, as it has done for 57 bears over the past four years, giving them space to roam, the opportunity to den, and freedom from being forced to perform tricks.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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