Yaarab Shrine’s Wild Animal–Free Shows Prompt a Thank-You—and a Push—From PETA

For Immediate Release:
May 28, 2024

David Perle 202-483-7382


After the local Yaarab Shrine Circus kept elephants and other wild animals out of its 2024 season, which ended yesterday, PETA sent a letter to Potentate Bob Mount thanking him for the long-awaited move and urging him to commit to making all future performances completely animal-free.

PETA has maintained a vigorous campaign against the Yaarab Shrine Circus, which has included eye-catching actions outside circus shows and Shrine events, creative ad placements, more than 250,000 e-mails from animal allies urging it to go animal-free, and outreach to sponsors such as GLOCK Inc., a former top backer that recently confirmed that it would pull its longtime funding of the circus beginning in 2025 unless it officially stops forcing animals to perform. 

A wounded elephant at a Shrine circus performance. Credit: PETA

“After years of doubling down on animal exploitation, the Yaarab Shrine Circus has taken a step in the right direction—away from forcing bullied wild animals to perform under the big top,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA urges the Shriners to formally embrace a production filled solely with talented human performers and urges the public never to attend a circus that still relies on animal suffering.” 

To provide the elephant acts for its past circuses, the Yaarab Shrine routinely worked—for years—with notoriously cruel exhibitors with long histories of citations for violating the federal Animal Welfare Act. For its 2023 shows, Carden Circus supplied elderly elephants Betty and Janice, both of whom have spent decades in chains and shackles and have been seen struggling to get up and down during circus shows, moving stiffly around the ring, and swaying in distress.

Hundreds of venues and dozens of communities across the country prohibit or restrict animal acts, and several Shrine clubs have taken steps to remove animals from their shows. Last month, the Hadi Shrine Circus announced that it would no longer exploit elephants following a PETA campaign. The Moolah Shrine Circus stopped using elephants, big cats, and bears; Shrine circuses in Canada haven’t used wild animals in years; and the Bahia, Jerusalem, and Melha Shriners discontinued their animal circuses.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

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