Moolah Shrine Circus drops elephants after months of protest | St. Louis Metro News | Saint Louis

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An elephant performs at a Shriners circus in 2007.

When the circus comes to town in March, it will be less of a longtime attraction – the elephants.

The 81-year-old St. Louis-based Moolah Shrine Circus announced yesterday that it has decided to stop using elephants, a move that follows two months of targeted protests. More recently, two protesters affiliated with PETA were arrested on December 21 after briefly interrupting a Shriners meeting at their headquarters in unincorporated St. Louis County.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the Shrine Circus said the decision took “five years”.

“Over the past few years, we have retired our tigers, lions and bears,” the statement continued. “The New Year offers all-new and exciting entertainment from performers.”

PETA took credit for the decision in its own statement. The animal rights organization has been protesting the use of elephants in circuses for years and in recent years has had major success as circuses across the country have stopped using them.

In November, the organization began focusing on the Moolah Shriner circus, and things escalated a month later when some Shriners arrested two protesters at their meeting and held them until police arrived. . Protesters said last month they would sue for what they called an assault.

“It took calls from more than 60,000 PETA supporters and the bravery of peaceful protesters – who were assaulted by aggressive Shriners – but PETA today celebrates the news that the Moolah Shrine Circus is finally giving up its numbers. elephants,” said PETA’s executive vice president. Tracy Reiman. “Let this be a lesson to all other recalcitrant sanctuaries that it’s time to stop fist fighting for the future and start moving to animal-free circuses that dazzle audiences with human talent.”

PETA has linked the Moolah Shriners pachyderms to the Oklahoma-based Endangered Ark Foundation, operated by Carson & Barnes Circus. Its statement said the circus was “cited for more than 100 violations of federal animal protection law” and that its head trainer was filmed beating elephants.

PETA’s complaints weren’t the only time the Shriners’ elephants made headlines. In 2010, three of the star performers were apparently spooked by the crowds at St. Charles’ Family Arena and took a parking break, damaging cars and trailers.

The Moolah Shrine Circus returns to the Family Arena on March 26.

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