- Imperial Potentate Gary BergenskeShriners International
End the Use of Wild Animals in your Circuses!
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Bowing to public pressure regarding the abuse of animals in the circus, Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey Circus has closed down. Other smaller circuses have closed or changed their shows, and numerous cities across the country have or are banning the use of wild animals in traveling entertainment. The United States is finally waking up to what numerous other countries know so well: the use of wild animals in traveling entertainment is archaic and cruel.
The Shriners will tell you that their circuses support children suffering from illness. However, the numerous "Shrine Circuses" that take place around the country only serve to support the operations of the individual Shrine chapters. The monies are used to "keep their lights on."
Most Shrine Circuses continue to make use of animals. The Shriners hire circuses who rent animals to perform. The tigers, elephants, and other wild animals used by these circuses are forced to travel continuously, cramped into tiny cages and boxcars, beaten with bullhooks and whipped, and denied the opportunity to live any semblance of a natural life. All of this happens not for the benefit of children, but to pay for the operational costs of individual Shrine chapters.
It is time that the Shriners did the right thing and instituted an organizational policy that no being should need to suffer for the enjoyment of another, no matter what the cause.
On February 23, 2015, the Shriners' former Imperial Potentate Dale Stauss wrote: "We are working very hard to reach people, and make them aware of who we are, and the important contributions we make to the world around us. Toward that end, we are working to disseminate our messages in a variety of ways, as often and as effectively as possible."
We call on Shriners International to reevaluate utilizing circuses with animals as a means for reaching people and disseminating their messages. With Ringling's decision and the decisions of other circuses that have followed, it is clear that the world has awoken to the fact that the circus is violence, suffering, and domination over the innocent. We are confident that this is not the message of the Shriners, and we know that they will use their good conscience to put an end to the archaic practice of abusing others for cheap entertainment.
- Shriners International
Imperial Potentate Gary Bergenske
We call on Shriners International to reevaluate utilizing the circus as a means for reaching people and raising money. After Ringling's decision to close due to public pressure, it is clear that the world is waking up to the fact that the circus is violence, suffering, and domination over the innocent. We are confident that this is not the message of the Shriners, and we know that you will use your good conscience and strategic business sense to put an end to the archaic practice of abusing others for cheap entertainment.
Please contact Executive Director Carrie LeBlanc at CompassionWorks International for assistance with moving on from utilizing abused animals as fundraising tools. CWI is open to dialogue and happy to be of assistance on this issue.
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