Animal Rights Group Protesting Morocco Shrine Circus In Jacksonville

Jun 1, 2015

Compassion Works International Creative Director Adam Sugalski said, “They’re cracking the whip close, but behind the scenes those tigers are being hit by the whip, and they’re kept in cages.”
Credit greyloch / Flickr

Activists will protest against the use of animals in the Morocco Shrine Circus show in Jacksonville this Friday.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” Adam Sugalski, the creative director of Compassion Works International, talked about some of the group’s concerns with the use of animals in circus acts.

Compassion Works International is a nonprofit organization dedicated towards ending animal cruelty.

“We’re not against the Shriners,” Sugalski said. “We’re against them renting these animals. They don’t own any of these animals, and they could have the show without it.”

Sugalski says the bears wear muzzles and ride motorcycles in the show.

“A lot of people out there are dog lovers,” Sugalski said. “Would you muzzle your dog and force it to ride a motorcycle? I mean, my dog would be be terrified.”

Those in opposition to Sugalski’s protest have said the bears are well fed and treated properly.

“In our minds that just isn’t good enough,” Sugalski said. “These animals were never meant to be in these circus acts.”

However, Sugalski says some entertainment acts include abused animals like tigers and elephants.

Some circus acts like the Ringling Bros. are slowly phasing elephants out of their shows, which Sugalski says is a victory. But he also says there’s much progress to be made concerning the treatment of tigers.

“In the show they don’t actually hit the tigers per say,” Sugalski said. “They’re cracking the whip close, but behind the scenes those tigers are being hit by the whip, and they’re kept in cages.”

Sugalski says the group’s protesters are peaceful and passive.

“We do not yell at anybody. We don’t want to make any children feel uncomfortable,” Sugalski said. “I want an open dialogue because that’s the only way you really can get true change.”

The circus will run from Thursday, June 4-7 at the Morocco Shrine Center.

Listen to the full conversation with Adam Sugalski on Monday’s episode of the First Coast Connect podcast on iTunes.

Photo credit: ‘Dancing Tigers’ by Greyloch is used under CC BY-SA 2.0.