Saskatchewan

Exotic animals no longer with Saskatchewan Shrine Circus

As of this year, the Wawa Shrine Circus in Saskatchewan will no longer use exotic animals such as elephants and tigers. Instead, the show will feature horses, cowboys, high-wire acts, and dance performances.

Wawa Shriner official says 'a change in direction of moral compass'

Elephants will no longer be at Saskatchewan Shrine Circus. (CBC)

There will be no elephants or tigers at the Shrine Circus in Saskatchewan.

In fact, the long-running event may soon lose its 'circus' tag. That's because exotic animals are out.

"Our moral compass is switching us in the direction of going away from exotic animals in the circus," said Stuart Larson, the Wawa Shriners' provincial event chairperson.

For years, animal rights activists, including those in Saskatchewan, have protested the use of exotic animals as circus performers.

The long list of animal cruelty complaints include the use of whips and electric prods, to the long hours many animals spend in small cages and chains as the circus travels from town to town.

Larson said he's heard the outcry and has recently seen them on social media.

"Probably the old circus model is not going to be the model," Larson said.

The new show will be more like a Cirque du Soleil performance. It will feature a high-wire act and dance performances.

But there will be some animals, including horses.

The Saskatchewan Shriners raise money for 22 hospitals across North America. Its focus is children, which is why Larson said some animals will remain in the show.

"Children react very well to animals. It's comforting to them. And Saskatchewan is home to a lot of horses and cowboys so it seems like a natural fit," he said.

The first of several Saskatchewan Shrine shows begins June 1 in Estevan.

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