For Immediate Release:
March 16, 2023
David Perle 202-483-7382
Tampa, Fla. – As members of Shriners International gather for a conference at the Tampa Airport Marriott tomorrow, they’ll be met with disturbing video footage of an elephant trainer who routinely partners with Shrine circuses instructing other trainers to sink bullhooks—weapons that resemble a fireplace poker with a sharp hook on one end—into elephants’ flesh and twist them until they scream. Courtesy of PETA, the footage will be playing on a truck that will also show a baby elephant being hit with a bullhook alongside the words “Shameful Shriners!” as it cruises around downtown.
“The elephants used in Shrine circuses have been taken away from their mothers, imprisoned, shackled, trained with violence, and forced to perform against their will since they were infants,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “As Shriners meet to discuss their future, PETA is calling on club members to step out of the Dark Ages, end their support of elephant suffering, and showcase only human talent in their circuses.”
Shrine circuses—such as the notorious Hadi, Sharon, and Yaarab circuses—are among the very last remaining shows that still deprive wild animals of any semblance of a natural life. The Moolah Shrine recently dropped elephants from its circus following months of protests by animal advocates. Shrine circuses in Canada haven’t used wild animals in years, and the Western Montana and AAD Shrine circuses have ended wild-animal acts. PETA is calling on every holdout Shrine circus to follow the lead of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus by using only willing human participants.
PETA’s mobile billboard will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, March 17, and will circle the conference location, Shriners International Headquarters, and downtown Tampa.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.