58th Zor Shrine Circus Brings Back Elephants, Abuse Controversy

Animal activists say circus elephants are abused and handed out leaflets in Madison showing how to find the signs to circus-goers Saturday.

The Zor Shrine Circus was actually the first event in the Alliant Energy Center Coliseum back in 1967. Zor Shrine has hired the George Carden Circus since 1986, but activists are upset about animal rights violations spotted last year.

“I don’t think elephants should be in the circus gven their size,” said Alliance for Animals Volunteer Julie Grosso.”It’s really difficult in my opinion to care for them.”

The circus was cited for not paying enough medical attention to the elephants and for not having enough handlers in 2011.

Since December Dane County has been considering an ordinance to ban elephant performances in county facilities. The discussion continues at a committee meeting Tuesday.

In December Zor Shrine said even if the ordinance passes, they would find another way to keep the circus in town, like having it in a tent.

“I’ve seen the animal care, they are they are treated very well,” said Zor Shrine Circus Organizer John Thorstad at one of six shows this weekend. “They are fed, they are bathed constantly, they are very well taken care of.”

Madison has a complicated history with elephants. In 1966 a Vilas Zoo elephant stomped a child to death when she tried to feed it popcorn. In 2000 the zoo’s two elephants were shipped out of state when the USDA found their habitat was inadequate.

Thorstad says tickets are still available for two shows Sunday.

58th Zor Shrine Circus Brings Back Elephants, Abuse Controversy.

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