While the Shriners are known for their charity work pertaining to hospitals for sick children, circus proceeds do not contribute to those efforts. The Shriners Hospital for Children located in Montreal confirms donations to the hospital from local temples amounts to less than 1% of their income. They further explained the Shriners Hospital and the Shriners fraternity are two very distinct and...
While the Shriners are known for their charity work pertaining to hospitals for sick children, circus proceeds do not contribute to those efforts. The Shriners Hospital for Children located in Montreal confirms donations to the hospital from local temples amounts to less than 1% of their income. They further explained the Shriners Hospital and the Shriners fraternity are two very distinct and separate entities.
The fact the Shriners use the long standing belief by the general public, that revenue from the circus is donated to the hospitals, it is totally misleading. Shriners Hospitals are supported primarily by income from the Shriners Hospital for Children endowment fund which is maintained through donations and bequests from both Shriners and non-Shriners. While Shriner bylaws state that 100% of the proceeds of activities destined to fund the hospital must be remitted to the hospital, the one exception to this rule applies to the Shrine Circus.
The Circus is the only Shriner activity where proceeds do not go to the hospitals but to the fraternity itself. The Shriners fraternity portion of funds raised through circus ticket sales, merchandise and food goes for administration, travel expenses and entertainment costs. The circus is rented from professional operators and a portion of the gate is remitted back to the Shriner fraternity after the operator covers his own expenses and turns a profit. It is clearly written on the ticket that circus proceeds are earmarked for use by the fraternity.
This summer the Shrine Circus is scheduled to hold performances in your municipality/venue. We ask you to prevent them from performing and ban all circus performances using animals. Not only does a circus pose considerable public safety risk, it also promotes animal cruelty. Additionally in the past vendors in the area suffered reduced sales due to protestors and general upheaval for businesses during the time the circus was on commercial property.
There are many documented cases of animals terrorizing attendees and the public in general which can be authenticated with an internet search. The trauma which may be suffered by any child who could witness an animal being shot or subdued far outweighs the choice to allow these performances for monetary gain. This is not healthy family entertainment. There have been more than 35 dangerous incidents documented since 2000 in Canada and the U.S when elephants have bolted from circuses, run amok through streets, crashed into buildings, attacked members of the public and killed and injured handlers. In July, 2007 in Newmarket, Ontario 3 elephants escaped. Newmarket has since banned circus performances using animals. A circus is not a natural environment for wild animals and they often go mad as a result of their confinement.
While a circus may be acceptable in some cultures we must set an example and it must start at the municipal level.
To date the province of British Columbia is leading the evolution with 20 of their municipalities banning circuses that have wild and exotic animals performing. Modern circuses have already begun to redefine themselves by eliminating outdated and exploitive wild animal acts becoming animal-free circuses - the best known of which is probably Canada's own Cirque du Soleil. The majority of people do not see an 'educational value' in circuses where bears, for example, are taken out of their natural habitat and force-trained to ride bicycles, tigers are forced to jump through flames and horses are forced to prance on their hind legs.
Recognizing the cruel ways performing animals are often trained and the stressful and impoverished conditions in which they live, the Provincial Government, in an amendment to the Municipal Act, allowed local municipalities to pass bylaws regarding the prohibition, regulation and licensing of exhibitions, menageries, circus riding, and other similar kinds of shows.
The Ontario Municipal Act allows municipalities the discretion to decide issues of animals used in performances. It is within your scope and authority to prevent this outdated and cruel form of entertainment.
We ask that you do so immediately.