The Shrine Circus, like all circuses that continue to use animals, has a long history of ongoing animal abuse and exploitation.
Animals used in circuses live miserable lives of exploitation, deprivation, confinement, and violent training. In order to get wild animals to perform unnatural, uncomfortable, and often dangerous tricks, they are beaten into submission using whips, electric prods, and bullhooks. They are trucked around from city to city in boxcars with no heat or air conditioning. When elephants are not performing, they are kept chained up by one front leg and one back leg; big cats and other animals are kept in cages so small they can barely turn around comfortably. Most importantly, the circus takes animals far from their natural homes, traumatically separates them from their families, and deprives them of their basic needs and desires to exercise, roam, socialize, forage, and play.
Year after year, Giant Eagle consistently partners up with the Shrine Circus and gives them plenty of promotion through their Giant Eagle Family Fun Pack, which along with vouchers for soda and hotdogs and 4 coupons for digital prints from Giant Eagle Photo, also includes 4 tickets to the Shrine Circus. In the past few years VFA has sent letters to Giant Eagle's management and CEO asking them to drop the partnership with Shrine and offering to meet with them to discuss the issue further. These letters have been consistently ignored. Others have contacted Giant Eagle with the same message and have been ignored as well, and still like clockwork Giant Eagle continues to promote the Shrine Circus every year, despite being made well aware of the abuse and cruelty behind it.
Every time Giant Eagle attaches its much-respected name to the Shrine Circus, it lends the Shrine Circus more and more credibility with the public. It's time for Giant Eagle to understand that if it wants to continue the annual promotion of Shrine Circus, then its name is going to be associated with animal abuse. No business should ever partner with, sponsor, or promote the Shrine Circus or any circus that uses animals. Giant Eagle needs to end their promotions of animal circuses once and for all.
Please write, email, and call Giant Eagle and make it known you want them to stop partnering with the Shrine Circus and any other circus that uses animals. If you are a Giant Eagle customer, as many of us who live in this area are, please note this fact in your letters and calls.
Giant Eagle, Inc.
Attn: Customer Care Center
PO Box 11591
Pittsburgh, PA 15238-9942
1-800-553-2324 (call 9 AM-9 PM 7 days a week)
If you have a Giant Eagle Advantage card, send them your Advantage card number so they know you are a customer. You can use this email form to contact them, where there is a spot for your Advantage Card number:
You can also write to Giant Eagle's Chairman and CEO at this address:
Mr. David S. Shapira
Chairman and CEO
101 Kappa Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
Please let us know if you receive any response at all from Giant Eagle.
Here are some facts about Shrine Circus you can use to write your letters:
For more information about the inherent cruelty of animal circuses visit:
- A big issue with the Shrine Circus is that the public believes the proceeds for the event goes to benefit Shriners Hospitals, but this is a fallacy. The proceeds for the event go to cover Shriners' administrative costs. Many times it's announced in small writing on tickets that proceeds do not benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children and contributions or gifts to the Shrine Circus are not tax deductible as charitable contributions.
- Shrine Circus escapes the scrutiny of governing bodies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by not owning the animals used in its shows or possessing an exhibitor license. The animals are leased from outside companies, including Tarzan Zerbini Circus, George Carden Circus, Jordan World Circus, Hawthorn Corporation, Royal Hanneford Circus, Franzen Bros. Circus, and Circus Hollywood, so Shrine Circus is not subject to citations under its own name.
- The exhibitors of Shrine Circus-leased animals have failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition as established in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The USDA has cited Shrine Circus exhibitors for failure to provide veterinary care, adequate shelter from the elements, nutritious food, and clean water, as well as for failure to handle animals in a manner that prevents trauma and harm and ensures public safety.
- An exhibitor whose bears were used during a Shrine Circus performance last year (2008) at Knox County Middle School in Tennessee was cited by the USDA for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including seating people within 20 feet of the bear without a barrier of any kind.
- March 1-4, 2007: The Al Chymia Shrine Circus in Memphis, Tennessee, featured elephant trainer Tim Frisco who, in his capacity as animal care director for Carson & Barnes Circus, was videotaped viciously attacking terrified elephants with sharp metal bullhooks and electric prods. Frisco instructed other trainers to hurt the elephants until they screamed and to sink the bullhook into their flesh and twist it and cautioned that the beatings must be concealed from the public.
- November 24, 2006: Animal trainer Wade Burck was clawed by a tiger during a performance of the Hadi Shrine Circus in Evansville, Indiana. Burck received hospital treatment, including stitches, for wounds to his left forearm and leg.
- March 16, 2006: The USDA cited Hawthorn Corporation, an exhibitor performing for the Shrine Circus in Springfield, Missouri, for failure to provide veterinary care to a male lion who had three lesions, including a 3-inch long open scrape on his right hip, and scabbed-over lesions at the base of his tail and on his left hip. The licensee said these lesions were caused by the lion's rubbing against the bars of the enclosure.
- March 16, 2006: The USDA cited George Carden Circus, which was performing as the Shrine Circus in Springfield, Missouri, for failing to provide veterinary care to an elephant named Judy who had three open wounds on her forehead and one open wound on her left front leg.
- January 31, 2005: An elephant trainer with Tarzan Zerbini Circus was trampled to death by one of the elephants as the animals were being loaded into a trailer following performances at the Mizpah Shrine Circus in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
- November 26, 2004: An ambulance was called to the Hadi Shrine Circus at Roberts Stadium in Evansville, Indiana, after a circusgoer was bitten on the cheek by a chimpanzee belonging to Zoppe-Rosaire Chimpanzees while posing for pictures. The patron was treated at the hospital for a puncture wound.
- April 9, 2003: The USDA filed charges against Hawthorn Corporation, a company that supplies elephants and tigers to Shrine Circuses. The complaint alleges 47 violations of the minimum standards of care established in the Animal Welfare Act. Charges include using physical abuse to train, handle, and work an elephant, causing physical harm and discomfort, failing to provide veterinary care to an emaciated elephant, failure to provide veterinary care to an elephant suffering with severe chemical burns and a bacterial infection, failure to provide veterinary care to several elephants with potentially deadly foot problems, and unsafe public contact.
- March 10, 2003: According to The Edmonton Sun, a local Shriner admitted that statements made by club members may have misled the public into believing that circus profits would help sick kids and fund hospital operations when in fact the circus funds are used for administrative costs.
- June 17, 2002: Two elephants, named Tory and Mary, performing with the Shrine Circus in Menomonie, Wisconsin, bolted out of a circus tent during a show, scattering crowds. Mary hiked 2 miles through town and was recaptured at the University of Wisconsin-Stout campus when trucks blocked her escape. One child was injured, and the elephants damaged a door at the park and caused $600 in damage to a city truck. The Shriners had contracted with George Carden Circus for the event.
- August 20, 1994: An elephant named Tyke who had rampaged at the Altoona, Pennsylvania, Shrine Circus on April 21, 1993, killed her trainer while performing in Honolulu, Hawaii, stomped on a circus groom, and injured a dozen spectators.