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Shrine Circus Greeted by Protest - Oakville, ON 2013


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On Saturday, July 28th a demonstration opposing animal cruelty at the Shrine Circus was held at the Oakville Entertainment Centrum Parking Lot in Oakville, ON.  The demonstration, organized by HALT (Hamilton Animal Liberation Team), was attended by roughly 30 protestors including members from Niagara ADL and KOALA.

Demonstrators distributed educational literature about animal abuse that is common practice at the Shrine Circus (such as use of bullhooks, animal confinement, injuries and illness, and stress of transportation and separation from families) to circus patrons as they entered the grounds.

The protestors also used megaphones to spread their message of ending animal cruelty and could be heard by attendees as they waited in line to enter the Big Top. Many circus patrons engaged in conversation with demonstrators about the ethics of using animals for entertainment and several families decided not to attend the event.

Circus animals could be seen through a fence behind the Big Top.  Demonstrators collected video footage of two elephants, Marie and Shell, being fed hay (elephants do not eat hay naturally), and limping horses wearing leg braces as they were marched into the performance tent.

Eventually the police arrived (at the request of the Shriners), and threatened to arrest demonstrators on grounds that their megaphones were too loud and may cause a safety hazard.  When questioned about noise by-laws, the police responded that it was a legal grey area and that they were just doing their job.  It should be noted that the Circus PA system was significantly louder than the demonstrators’ megaphones and the protest occurred next to a busy expressway.  Police also used the tactic of outlawing megaphones the previous day at a protest held at Marineland in Niagara Falls, ON in an ongoing trend across the province to stifle freedom of speech rights at AR demonstrations.

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