Petition Closed

The new movie Water for Elephants, based on the best-selling book, depicts circus elephants being beaten into submission to perform unnatural tricks like headstands. Although the story takes place during the early 1930s, performing animals are still regularly subjected to abuse nearly a century later.

Just one year ago this month, an elephant performing with the Shrine Circus in Pennsylvania kicked and killed a groomer. While officials said the elephant came into contact with electrical wires and was spooked, elephant experts disagreed, and believed the stomping was intentional.

Animals are trained to do unnatural acts like headstands using negative reinforcement methods with bullhooks (a long pole with a metal hook on the end, used to beat and jab elephants’ sensitive skin), whips, electric prods and other cruel devices. Elephants are not allowed to socialize, and when not performing, are kept chained in a small area with little room to move.

Shrine Circus exhibitors have been cited over the years for dozens of abuses, including failure to provide veterinary care, shelter from the elements, nutritious food or clean water, as well as failure to handle animals in a way preventing them from trauma and harm.

It’s the 21st century and high time for the Shrine Circus to stop supporting animal abuse. Please sign the petition asking the Shrine Circus to stop using performing animals.

Photo credit: rjshiflet


Letter to
President, Shriners of North America George A. Mitchell
I am writing to ask you to stop supporting animal abuse by using performing animals in the Shrine Circus.

In the movie and book “Water for Elephants,” circus animals are cruelly beaten as they’re trained to perform unnatural tricks. While the story takes place 80 years ago, unfortunately these practices are far from being a part of history. Perhaps you're not aware that trainers still use cruel devices like whips, bullhooks and electric prods to painfully beat elephants into submission.

To prevent more tragedies like the death of the Shrine Circus elephant groomer in Pennsylvania last year, I urge you to stop using live animals in your circus.

Thank you.

Laura Goldman started this petition with a single signature, and now has 5,812 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.