Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

“Not in my name” – Students call on Whitemarsh Township Board to end circus suffering

Posted: 12 March 2014. Updated: 27 June 2014

Three twelve year old students from Springside Chestnut Hill (SCH) Academy Middle School in Philadelphia, PA have been invited to give a presentation about the suffering of circus animals during this week’s televised meeting of the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors (Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 7pm).

SCH Academy sixth graders Carlo Filippini, Sante Filippini and Alex Johnson will be calling on the Board to initiate an ordinance to ban wild animals in traveling circuses in Whitemarsh Township. They come with the backing of fellow students who they polled to assess attitudes to animals in traveling circuses – overwhelmingly the students said that circuses are no place for wild animals.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International (ADI), which has secured national legislation and local ordinances all over the world to prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses, is backing the boys and believes this could be the first step to eliminating these acts in the area.

Creamer says: “Carlo, Sante, and Alex represent the very people the circus claims to be providing entertainment for. ADI has secured national legislation ordinances all over the world and once people get the facts they agree that the suffering of these animals in the name of entertainment must stop. Traveling from place to place circuses cannot provide appropriate facilities for these animals and with the constant handling and having to perform physical abuse is inevitable. The Board should listen very carefully to these students.”

The students are participating in local animal protection group 22reasons’ year-long humane education program at their school which offers the boys the opportunity to collaborate and design ways to raise awareness about circus animal suffering.

Inspired by 22reasons and ADI’s Lion Ark rescue, where 25 lions were rescued from abusive circuses in Bolivia, the boys fashioned a “beastwagon,” placed it in the school lobby and stayed inside it for 4 hours so that students, faculty and parents could see what life is like for lions and other animals in the circus. They also collected signatures for a petition for Whitemarsh Township to restrict the use of wild animals in traveling circuses, and they collected over $200 dollars for the care of the rescued Bolivian lions.

Gigi Glendinning, Director of 22reasons, contacted the Township Manager to explain the boys’ efforts, and the Whitemarsh Township Board invited the boys to attend a board meeting to share their research about the use of animals in circuses. The Board meeting is open to the public and will be broadcast live on TV.

Gigi Glendinning: “We are all so impressed with the boys’ compassion for the animals and their success at informing the community about the suffering behind the scenes at the circus.”

Student Presentation about the Suffering of Circus Animals

Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 7pm

Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors Meeting
Township Building
616 Germantown Pike
Lafayette Hill, PA


Film and photographs of animals in circuses are available from ADI.

ADI Media Desk: 323-804-9920 e:

About 22reasons
22reasons is a non-profit humane education organization teaching compassion and reverence for all animals. We are a passionate group of advocates working to raise awareness about animal welfare. We believe animals deserve the opportunity and liberty to experience their natural born lives, and that sharing the stories of animals who have been denied such liberty promotes the critical thinking that is necessary for action on their behalf. We educate people of all ages — in schools, professional and informal settings — through humane education programs which include experiences garnered volunteering around the world. For information, contact Gigi Glendinning at 215-591-0338.

About Animal Defenders International
ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing behind-the-scenes suffering in the industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals and educates the public.

Background – worldwide movement to end use of wild animals in traveling shows
The evidence that the suffering caused to wild animals by the constant travel, severe restrictions on movement and unnatural lifestyle has prompted authorities and governments around the world to end their use.

In the United States, 38 cities/counties in 18 states have taken action to restrict wild animals from traveling circuses. And around the world, hundreds of local ordinances are in place, including in the UK, Europe, and South America.

National restrictions on performing animals in travelling circuses, either wild or all animals, have been enacted in 27 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, and Taiwan. Similar laws are under discussion in the UK, Brazil, Chile, Malta, Mexico and The Netherlands.

Whether it is a traveling circus, or travel from county show to county show, the confinement for the animals is the same:

  • Traveling circuses cannot meet the physical, psychological or behavioral needs of wild animals, due to severe confinement, physical and social deprivation, long periods of time in transporters, with brutal control methods and physical violence.
  • It is a myth that wild animals are trained with kindness and reward; the tools of the trade include stun guns and other electric prods, metal bars, whips, bullhooks (a heavy bar with a sharpened point and hook), deprivation of food and water and intimidation.
  • Keeping stressed, large and dangerous wild animals close to the public in lightweight, temporary enclosures has proven disastrous. Workers and members of the public have been killed and maimed; lions, tigers and elephants have all escaped.
  • It is estimated that around 12% of Asian and 2% of African elephants in North America have tuberculosis (TB), a disease transmissible from elephants to humans.
  • Because of the traveling nature of the circus, animal welfare officers have difficulties with protecting the animals, inspections and associated time and costs. This justifies a restriction, for the protection of the animals and the public.
  • Circuses must change with the times. Human only circuses are thriving. Cirque du Soleil now has 19 shows in 271 cities, generating an estimated $810 million a year. Whereas the wild animal traveling show, Piccadilly Circus, recently canceled performances across Southern California due to poor ticket sales.
  • Circus workers perform multiple roles; staff can be retrained, so jobs are not lost. Circus Vargas removed their animal acts and the business continues. Surveys have shown that a decline in animal circuses can be matched by a rise in circuses with human performers.

© Animal Defenders International 2019