Please join ARFF's protest at the Shrine Circus, May 17-18 in Kissimmee.

Sign our petition! "Shriners International: Stop hosting cruel circuses"

The Shriners do not operate their own traveling circus. Instead, local Shrine temples hire existing circuses or put together a collection of acts to perform. In Florida, Circus Hollywood and the Royal Hanneford Circus commonly perform under the "Shrine Circus" name.

Circus Hollywood
CoraFlorida-based Circus Hollywood frequently performs as a "Shrine Circus." In 2012, Circus Hollywood included high-wire acts, clowns and acrobats. Unfortunately, the circus also featured two elephants and an exotic animal petting zoo (giraffes, zebras and other animals).

The two elephants— an African elephant named "Shannon" and an Asian elephant named "Cora" — are owned by Bill and Cindy Morris. During a Shrine circus in 2003 in Maine, Bill Morris was filmed cruelly using a bullhook on Cora, causing the elephant to cry out (view the video here). According to Bill Morris, Cora (in photo at right) is 51 years old, which would make her one of the oldest performing elephants in the United States. But ARFF believes Cora is actually much older, perhaps over 60. She may be the oldest elephant still traveling and performing with a circus in the country.

Royal Hanneford Circus
The Royal Hanneford Circus is a Sarasota-based circus that also performs in Florida under the "Shrine Circus" name.

Like most circuses, Hanneford contracts with different performers each year. In recent years, the Royal Hanneford Circus has included elephants, tigers and a depressing act in which muzzled and leashed bears are forced to ride bicycles and balance on balls. USDA inspectors have repeatedly cited the Royal Hanneford Circus for poor veterinary care.

Photograph from the Royal Hanneford Circus website.

For its 2011 tour, the circus teamed-up with an elephant trainer named Tim Frisco. Mr. Frisco is infamous for undercover video footage that captured him beating elephants with bullhooks and shocking them with electric prods. In the video, Frisco is heard instructing other elephant trainers to, “Hurt ‘em! Make ‘em scream! … Sink that hook into ‘em … When you hear that screaming, then you know you got their attention!” The disturbing video is widely available online.

Public Danger. In February 1999, an elephant with the Royal Hanneford Circus left the ring and ran into the audience during a performance in Poughkeepsie, New York. Several spectators were injured as they tried to get away from the elephant.

Don't the Shriners help children?
The Shriners Hospitals for Children, a separate organization from the Shrine temples, do good work, providing medical care to needy patients across the country—but less than 2 percent of the hospitals' budgets come from money raised by Shrine temples. An investigation by the New York Times found that much of the money raised by temples is used not to help children but to pay for trips, parties and alcohol.

"More than 57 percent of the $32 million the Shriners raised in 2005 through circuses, bingo games, raffles and a variety of sales went to costs of the fraternity, including keeping temple liquor cabinets full and offering expenses-paid trips to Shrine meetings and other events."
- "In Shriner Spending, a Blurry Line of Giving;" New York Times, March 19, 2007

The small print on Shrine circus tickets make it clear that proceeds from the circus fund temple activities, not the hospitals (tickets are not considered charitable contributions).

You Can Help
The following Shrine temples in Florida sponsor animal circuses. Please contact the Potentate, or chief executive, at a temple near you and urge him to replace circuses with non-animal fundraisers, such as golf tournaments, car shows, festivals, or an animal-free circus (click here to download a list of animal-free circuses).

Amara Shrine
Brian Price, Potentate
3650 RCA Blvd.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
Phone: (561) 627-2100
Fax: (561) 627-2103
E-mail: temple@amarashriners.org
Potentate's personal e-mail: bigdog5841@yahoo.com

Araba Shriners
Charles Bell, Potentate
2010 Hanson Street
Fort Myers, FL 33901
Phone: (239) 334-2226
Fax: (239) 334-4010
E-mail: info@arabashrine.net

Bahia Shriners
Jim Gillespie, Potentate
2300 Pembroke Drive
Orlando, FL 32810
Phone: (407) 660-8811
Fax: (407) 660-9028
E-mail: potentate@bahiashrine.org

"The time has come to end the circus at UCF.
It is no longer fun and games at the circus, and the people are aware of it.
The contract must not be renewed."
- editorial, Central Florida Future (UCF campus newspaper), April 14, 2008

Egypt Shriners
Richard Leger, Potentate
4050 Dana Shores Drive
Tampa, FL 33634
Phone: (866) 353-4978 or (813) 884-8381
Fax: (813) 884-7412
E-mail: egyptshrine@aol.com, egyptcircus@verizon.net
Potentate's personal e-mail: egyptrich@aol.com

Morocco Shrine
Dennis Green, Potentate
3800 St. Johns Bluff Road
Jacksonville, FL 32245
Phone: (904) 642-5200
E-mail: dgreen@moroccoshrine.org
Online comment form.

Ocala Shrine Club
Tom Hubbard, President
PO Box 830035
Ocala, FL 34483
Phone: (352) 694-1515
Fax: (352) 694-6899
E-mails: OcalaShrineClub@embarqmail.com

Sahib Shriners
Charles Levan, Potentate
600 North Beneva Road
Sarasota, FL 34232
Phone: (941) 366-4449
Fax: (941) 366-8578
E-mails: potentate@sahibshrine.org, sahib3@juno.com
Potentate's personal e-mail: cmlevan99@aol.com

Shaddai Shriners
Scott Hair, Potentate
PO Box 16115
Panama City, FL 32405
Phone: (850) 769-8303
Fax: (850) 763-9617
Potentate's personal e-mail: hairbear4@comcast.net
 *The Shaddai Shriners sponsor the Cole Bros. Circus each fall.

 
 
 

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