After years of protests by animal-welfare activists, the Los Angeles Shriners announced last week that they will not use performing animals in this year’s Shrine Circus, scheduled April 11-13, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
It will be the first time in 88 years that the fundraising Shrine Circus in Los Angeles will be animal free, according to Ed Stewart, president of California-based PAWS.
“PAWS commends the Shriners for making the decision to present a fundraising event that does not rely on the use of performing animals,” said Ed Stewart, a former Hollywood animal trainer with more than 30 years of experience caring for elephants and other exotic animals.
Shriners groups across the country have been hosting fundraising circuses since 1906. Each individual Shriners group hosts its own circus, leasing animals from a number of businesses.
Dan Patterson, posting on forcechange.com, reminds us that, according to bornfreeusa.org, the “USDA has cited Shrine Circus animal exhibitors for failing to provide veterinary care; failing to provide adequate food, water, and shelter from the elements; and failing to handle animals in a manner that ensures their safety as well as public safety.”
“Shrine Circuses provide aerial acts, clowns, rides, games, and other forms of entertainment. Performing animals are not even needed to entertain and to raise funds,” states forcechange.com, which is collecting signatures on a petition of commendation for the Los Angeles Shriners.
“ If the circus is a success maybe other Shriners groups will feel compelled to stop using animals in their own circuses. That would be a great triumph for animal rights in America,” Patterson notes.
“No matter the Shriners’ reason for deciding to go animal-free this year, it’s an important sign of the times,” Ed Stewart said. “Animal circuses are inhumane, outdated and they should be a thing of the past.”
The Shrine Circus is scheduled April 11-13 in the Al Malaikah Shrine Center in Los Angeles and promises games, rides and amusements aplenty, according to the group’s website. The funds raised are mainly used to support the Shriners Children Hospitals.
“PAWS will be there to support it,” Stewart said.