Mobile billboard challenges Shriners at annual convention in Daytona Beach

(Daytona Beach) — An eye-catching mobile billboard in Daytona Beach will urge Shriners to replace animal circuses with alternative fundraisers.

The billboard, sponsored by the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), features an image of a circus elephant in chains and boldly declares “Animals don’t belong in the circus” and “Shriners, please end your support of cruel circuses.”

The billboard truck will circulate in Daytona Beach on Tuesday, July 11 from 11:00am until 7:00pm, the start of the Shriners parade along A1A.

The Imperial Session, the annual convention of Shriners International, will be held in Daytona Beach from July 9-13. More than 100 Shriners International temples (chapters) in the U.S. will sponsor circuses in 2017. Shrine temples partner with circuses that have poor records of animal abuse and neglect.

“There is growing awareness and concern about the treatment of elephants and other animals in the circus,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “Unfortunately, the Shrine Circus is resisting change and continues to support cruel circuses.”

Shriners have been associated with circuses for a long time, but change is possible. Several Shrine temples have replaced long-running circuses with equally profitable alternatives, such as golf tournaments, car shows, festivals, or animal-free circuses.

A photo of the mobile billboard is available upon request.

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Tiger abuse caught on camera during Shrine Circus show in Kissimmee

(Kissimmee) — The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has released disturbing video taken during the Bahia Shrine Circus at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee on Saturday, May 6.

In the video— available here: https://youtu.be/QNBthmtroZg— circus workers violently jab a tiger with sticks after the animal refuses to perform.

“This weekend, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will hold its final performance,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “Ringling Bros. recognized that the public is turning away from cruel animal acts. Unfortunately, Shrine Circuses are resisting change and continue to transport tigers thousands of miles stuffed inside transport cages, and to force these magnificent animals to perform unnatural tricks on demand.”

Violent, physical abuse remains a common method of training and controlling animals in the circus.

ARFF activists protested outside all of the Shrine Circus performances in Kissimmee, May 6-7.

Orlando’s Bahia Shriners hired the Royal Hanneford Circus to be their 2017 “Shrine Circus.” The Royal Hanneford Circus has a long and sordid record of poor animal care and dangerous animal rampages. In November 2016, the circus agreed to pay a $7,000 fine to settle a federal complaint related to two incidents that put both animals and the public at risk.

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Advertisement calls on Florida Governor to appoint non-hunter to state wildlife agency

For Immediate Release: April 19, 2017

(Tallahassee, FL) — In today’s Tallahassee Democrat, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is running an advertisement urging Governor Rick Scott to appoint a nature photographer, a birdwatcher, or an individual with a background in wildlife conservation, to fill the next vacancy on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Today’s ad also ran in Sunday and Monday’s papers, and will run on Thursday as well, the final day of an FWC meeting in the town of Havana, north of Tallahassee.

View the ad here: www.download.arff.org/FWC-advertisement.pdf

The ad features an image of a black bear under the headline, “Florida’s wildlife belongs to all Floridians”. At this week’s meeting, the FWC will once again discuss bear management. In 2015, the FWC approved a black bear hunt despite strong public opposition. It was the first bear hunting season in Florida in 21 years.

“It is time that the FWC has a Commissioner who represents nature photographers, birders, hikers and other ‘non-consumptive’ users of Florida’s fish and wildlife,” said Don Anthony, ARFF’s Communications Director. “Most residents of Florida are not hunters, yet the FWC has long been dominated by individuals with a hunting background.”

Nature photography, along with birdwatching, hiking, canoeing and kayaking are the fastest-growing outdoor activities in America. According to the FWC’s own numbers, “wildlife viewing” has a much greater economic impact in Florida than hunting. The appointment of a photographer, birder, or wildlife advocate would add an important perspective to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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Criminal monkey blood smuggling scheme has a Florida connection

On hundreds of occasions over many years, Philip Lloyd and his company BioChemed Services exported blood products of monkeys* and other animals to biotech companies around the world, but fraudulently labeled the packages as containing human blood to avoid the attention of government inspectors. His actions made him a lot of money, but in the words of prosecutors, posed “a significant public health threat” and “risked the safety of the world’s supply of human blood” (monkeys can carry viruses and diseases that can be transmitted to humans).

In November 2016, Lloyd pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to mislabel wildlife products intended for foreign commerce.” Last week, in U.S. district court in Virginia, he was sentenced to 4 months in jail and a $250,000 fine.

Prior to sentencing, the judge received a letter seeking leniency for Lloyd from Michael Disbrow, who described Lloyd as a friend. Disbrow is senior director of “Nonhuman Primate Operations” for PreLabs, a company that operates a monkey quarantine/research facility in Hendry County. Disbrow and Lloyd are also partners in a Florida corporation called Flava Partners, LLC.

It is shocking that an executive of a research organization in Florida apparently has no qualms about being business partners with an individual who so flagrantly broke laws designed to protect human health.

*BioChemed has purchased blood from Florida’s Primate Products and other corporations that import and breed monkeys for use in research and testing

Last chance to see elephants? Don’t believe the circus

When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took its elephants off the road in May 2016, animal advocates cheered. Other Florida-based circuses saw the move as a marketing opportunity.

The Garden Bros. Circus advertised its 2016 tour as, “Last chance to see elephants live!” Apparently, the gimmick worked because they are using the tagline again this year.

On ticket coupons, Circus Pages teases, “May be the last chance to see performing elephants!”

Another Florida circus, the Stardust Circus, is using a similar line this year in its advertisements, “Come see one of the last performing circus elephants.”

We don’t believe any of these circuses will stop elephant acts, unless they have to. The end of elephants in the circus will come about due to the passage of local ordinances and state laws restricting the use of wild animals in the circus, and because the public– increasingly aware of the suffering of animals in traveling circuses– refuses to purchase tickets to circuses featuring animal acts.