Burlington-Bound Royal Canadian Circus Drops Wild-Animal Acts After PETA Lawsuits

Decision Comes After Years of Importing Elephants, Big Cats to Canada

For Immediate Release:
July 18, 2018

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Burlington, Ont. – The Royal Canadian Family Circus is in its new season—and it has announced that its shows, including the one in Burlington on July 26, will be entirely free of lions, tigers, elephants, bears, and all other wild animals. The decision to exclude them follows two PETA lawsuits challenging the shady export permits for the big-cat and elephant acts provided by the circus’s U.S.-based exhibitors.

For years, the Royal Canadian Family Circus—which is operated by the Tarzan Zerbini Circus—has angered animal advocates by exporting elephants supplied by Zerbini and big cats supplied by notorious animal exhibitor Hawthorn Corporation from the U.S. to Canada under permits issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. PETA’s lawsuits challenged the legality of those permits by contending that exporting imperiled captive wildlife for use in circuses does nothing to enhance the survival of the species—the false basis on which the permits were issued under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. As a result of the lawsuits, Hawthorn Corporation stopped seeking export permits and Zerbini’s permit was revoked—and now, Hawthorn has folded and the Royal Canadian Family Circus has overhauled its show, axing wild-animal acts.

“The Royal Canadian Family Circus’ decision to stop dragging elephants and tigers across the border and cruelly forcing them to perform meaningless tricks means that there are now no circuses featuring wild animals in Canada,” says PETA Foundation Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “This is a major step in the right direction, given the suffering of wild animals in archaic acts like those formerly featured in this circus.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that the Tarzan Zerbini Circus has a history of exposing elephants and the public to tuberculosis (TB), a disease carried by many captive elephants that’s highly transmissible to humans, even without direct contact. Three elephants used by Zerbini were previously quarantined in Ontario and removed from the country after U.S. officials alerted Canadian authorities that the animals had been in prolonged contact with one who had tested positive for TB.

In recent years, Ringling Bros. circus shut down, Cole Bros. stopped touring, and Kelly Miller Circus dropped all animal acts. More than 650 malls and dozens of communities across the U.S. now restrict circuses that use animals.