Cancel Abusive Circus’ Animal Performances


Target: Sir Richard Brousseau, Potentate for the Karnak Shriners

Goal: Refuse to host the notoriously abusive Tarzan Zerbini Circus’ upcoming animal performances

The Tarzan Zerbini Circus has an extensive track record of animal abuse spanning nearly the entire length of its existence. With almost annual health and cruelty citations from the United States Department of Agriculture (in addition to multiple fines and warnings), the circus still manages to find work. In August 2014, the Karnak Shriners organization plans on hosting animal performances from the inhumane circus.

Most circuses are well known for their masterfully choreographed elephant and tiger acts; what many fail to realize is that such discipline and obedience is achieved through torture. Animals that commit even the smallest mistakes are subject to whipping, poking, and verbal abuse. Drunken handlers sometimes attack animals that are not in training.

The Tarzan Zerbini Circus is especially known for its brutal instruction and gross negligence. In 1993, circus trainers beat an elephant so badly that it escaped during a performance, trampled a trainer, and wildly rebelled for half an hour in front of a live crowd. The same elephant would later be shot to death in a 1994 incident which involved the fatal trampling of another trainer and a rampage through Honolulu streets.

Circus animals are not at fault for their violent and unpredictable actions; such is the blame of belligerent handlers. Sign the following petition to demand that Karnak Shriners cancel its upcoming circus show. Animal abuse is something to be prevented, not rewarded.


Dear Mr. Brousseau,

The Karnak Shriners has scheduled animal performances from the notoriously abusive Tarzan Zerbini Circus. While animal cruelty is practically essential to the training of circus animals, the Tarzan Zerbini Circus has an especially brutal reputation. With multiple safety and health violations, the circus is a haven for animal torture and should not be supported, morally or financially.

Most circuses heavily feature elephant and tiger acts, flaunting complex choreography and astounding feats of obedience. What you may not be aware of are the extreme measures taken to discipline these creatures. Elephants are frequently jabbed with poking instruments called bullhooks. Tigers are whipped, punched, and kicked by trainers more ferocious than the wild cats. All of these barbaric training tactics condition the animals to be unpredictable and aggressive, all with good reason.

Tragically, the results sometimes involve the injury of innocents. In 1994, the enduring torture of a particular elephant resulted in a trainer being trampled to death and several others being seriously injured. For this reason, I urge you to cancel the Tarzan Zerbini Circus’ upcoming animal performances at your venue. Please, end the cycle of abuse and prevent the grave danger involved with this heartless industry.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Deutsche Fotothek via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Only people who are mentally sick will work in a circus, or enjoy watching wild animal being degraded. Sick, sick, sick. Unfortunately, the wild animals aren’t sick – until they are driven to it by the sick circus staff. I’m glad the elephant killed its abuser. It served the humanoid damn-well right. It’s a pity the roles can’t be reversed, and the animals could kill more circus staff. Personally, I’d prefer to watch humans being degraded, than seeing proud animals reduced to terrified wrecks by whips and beatings. I hope more pathetic circus humanoids get killed by abused animals – it’s the only way to get rid of these sadistic humanoids.

  2. Emily March says:

    ‘Big Tops’ surviving if they must; but please without such heartless abuse, and preferably without any animals at all. Particularly wild animals : clowns and trapeze artists do perfectly well on their own. A trainer was trampled to death? What surprises me – if you forgive my saying so – is it does not happen more often…

  3. I don’t understand why people still going to Circus? There are so many activities to choose from now which is vastly different from the 20s.

  4. It’s unbelievable that authorities still let these types of circuses operate. Even more unbelievable that people pay to see them.

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