Bill Cunningham, CEO of Dallas-based Fun Time Shows, the largest Shrine Circus producer in the country, says he’ll no longer produce shows featuring elephants, tigers, lions or other wild animals. Cunningham says, “These animals are very special; we cohabit the Earth with them, and they are deserving of our respect and awe.
They’re not here to perform tricks for our entertainment.” He says, “I’ve tried to listen to the mothers who said they didn’t want their kids to grow up and learn that the animals they saw had been probed, poked, prodded and chained to a floor.” The move has received an outpouring of support from outside the industry, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Cunningham’s Shrine Circuses will still feature high wire acts, human cannonballs, trapeze artists and motorcycle tricks, along with performing horses and dogs. “The horses and dogs act in true collaboration with their owners,” says Cunningham. “We feel the audience still wants to see domestic animals.”