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Petitioning President, Shriners of North America George A. Mitchell

Tell the Shrine Circus: Stop Using Performing Animals

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


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  • President, Shriners of North America
    George A. Mitchell

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