Video: Shrine Circus Met With Protests... Again


The Shrine Circus, which traditionally travels through Southern Idaho each summer with stops in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls and Pocatello, brings more than a parade of animals—it also courts a fair amount of controversy.

KHQ-TV reports at the circus' latest stop in Spokane, Wash., this week, protesters said that many of the animals had been trained with bullhooks and live a life of fear and suffering.

"It's a horrible life," Lesley Johnson told KHQ-TV. "I feel so deeply for them."

But a circus spokesman insists they take "magnificent care" of the animals had no plans of getting rid of their star attractions.

It was a year ago when Boise Weekly met a group of Wood River Valley students at Hailey's Sage School who convinced the Ketchum City Council to approve an ordinance—the first of its kind for Idaho—banning exotic circus animals from performing in Ketchum.

"Quite often, the abuse happens behind the curtain and no one can film it. You can rarely get the evidence," 13-year-old Will Griffith told BW. "And if you try to call the police to report abuse, quite often, the circus is out of town by then."

In June of last year, a handful of protesters met the Shrine Circus when it came to Boise's CenturyLink Arena with signs that read, "Their pain, your shame," and "Elephants are abused."

"Lots of people don't know what goes on behind closed doors," protest organizer Lorraine Guptill, a Mountain Home store owner, told BW prior to the demonstration. "Every year we have a lot of people who say they're sorry they went in and they're never coming back."