Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI offers proof that Shrine Circus has brought back exact elephants that rampaged last year

Posted: 20 March 2015. Updated: 20 March 2015

March 20, 2015, ST. CHARLES, MO – Contrary to claims made by David Dieckhaus, president of the Moolah Shriners of Eastern Missouri, Animal Defenders International (ADI) has obtained Saint Charles County Animal Control documents showing that these are the same three elephants that rampaged last year from the arena right after giving rides to circus goers. (Documents are available upon request.) Further, assurances are being made that clowns will be able to prevent a similar incident by not stirring up the crowd, which Shrine representatives cited as the reason the elephants escaped from their handlers last year.

ADI President, Jan Creamer: “It is reckless and irresponsible if the circus is intentionally withholding from the public that the same elephants that escaped last year from their show are performing again. Families should be concerned because there is no way to ensure public safety when you bring potentially dangerous wild elephants into close proximity with circus patrons and should avoid attending this event which is neither safe for people or animals.”

ADI is calling on the local community to stay away from the Royal Hanniford Circus performing as the Moolah Shrine Circus and avoid supporting an industry that involves cruelty, suffering to animals and public safety risks. The circus opened this Thursday, March 19 and has shows that run through the weekend.

Last March, three circus elephants escaped from Moolah Shrine Circus during a performance in St. Charles, Missouri, right after giving rides to circus patrons. A loading dock door and a number of cars were damaged as the elephants rampaged through the parking lot, but fortunately no one was hurt. Several people have been killed and injured by aggravated elephants in the US in the last few years.

One of the rampaging elephants, Isa (owned by Carson & Barnes Circus), has been reported to have escaped on more than one occasion. She was one of the elephants that ADI captured on undercover video in another incident, which shows circus workers frantically trying to control elephants as they run amok inside the UCCU Events Center at UVU Orem, Utah. Trainer Habib Omar and another elephant groom lash out at the elephants with bullhooks as they desperately try to contain them. Isa the elephant initially ignores the groom’s blows and charges into another elephant, believed to be called Bunny, easily driving the other elephant, weighing more than two tons, backwards.

Watch the video

Last year, the Moolah Shrine Circus also included a bear act by an exhibitor called Halls Bears. ADI investigators monitored the day to day life of these bears at circuses and county shows in five states – South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa – and found that the bears spend around 90% of their time shut in their cages inside a trailer. Their time outside these miserable prison cells generally averages just 10 minutes a day on weekdays and 20 minutes on weekends. Our video shows one bear desperately circling a small steel cage measuring about 31/2 feet wide, by 6ft deep and about 8ft high.

Watch the video

Studies of the use of wild animals in traveling circuses show that circuses cannot meet the physical or behavioral needs of wild animals. Animals are confined in small spaces, deprived of physical and social needs, spending excessive amounts of time shut in transporters. These animals are often seen behaving abnormally; rocking, swaying and pacing, all indicating that they are in distress and not coping with their environment. ADI’s video evidence has shown how these animals are forced to perform tricks through physical violence, fear and intimidation.

“Keeping wild animals like lions, tigers, bears and elephants chained and shut in small spaces, then beating them to perform tricks for human entertainment shames us all,” said Matt Rossell, ADI Campaigns Director.

ADI President, Jan Creamer: “When families find out about the routine abuses that go on behind the scenes at circuses, they will be shocked and will not want to expose their children to this cruelty.”

© Animal Defenders International 2019