Lions and tigers and elephants – oh my – will no longer be part of the Shrine Circus in Saskatchewan.
Stuart Larson is the provincial chairman of the Shrine circus in Saskatchewan. He confirms that the exotic animals like elephants and lions will not be returning to the show.
For the past 10 years, the non-profit organization has been starting to get some negative feedback about the use of exotic wild animals for entertainment.
“The last couple of years we’ve been thinking about going a different direction with it, so this year we’ve decided it was time to do that,” he said. “It’s time to retire the current model and move on with the new.”
This year, acrobats on horses will take the place of exotic animals like elephants and lions. Larson noted that the organization is very proud of the decision to present a new show called Ma’ceo Circo.
“It is an equestrian-based Cirque du Soleil-style performance. It has got aerial acts, comedy, music, theatrics,” Larson described.
Larson said the Shriners have always had faith that the animals used in the circus acts were well treated, and welcomed humane societies and animal protection agencies to do random checks. He also said the Shrine Circus has stayed popular throughout the past several years.
Now the organization is listening to a small roar of people on social media commenting that they would prefer to see a show without elephants.
“If you want to move forward in this business, then you have to evolve and it’s very important to us that our people have a great time and they’re happy with the product,” he commented.
Shriners hospitals are all about helping children, who have always loved animals and that’s why the group decided to still include animals in the shows. Considering Saskatchewan’s agricultural history, horses were thought to be a good fit for a family show.
“The old model was a good one and it served it’s time, and going forward this new one will serve us for generations to come,” Larson said.
The new Ma’ceo Circo act will be setting up tents in various communities across the province in June. You can check the Shriners website for details on dates and tickets.