Shrine Circus brings entertainment, controversy

Circus brings entertainment, controversy

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - After four days at the Spokane Valley Mall, it's time for the El Katif Shrine Circus to head out. While some are sad to see the 60th annual event leave, others are hoping it stays away forever.

Protesters were out on Evergreen Road for most the weekend asking people to not support the use of animals for entertainment. On our KXLY 4 News Facebook page, more than 100 people commented about this weekend's event. Some referred to it as "animal cruelty," others went as far as calling the animals "slaves."

But circus board members said those statements couldn't be further from the truth.

"You can't operate a circus and not have your animals taken care of," Circus Chairman Gary Van Dyke said. "They are so well taken care of. All you have to do is be at the circus, see the circus and look at the animals and you can tell how beautiful the animals... how well taken care of they are."

The annual event is put on by the El Katif Shriners. It funds their operational costs for the year. Circus board members estimate that they raise about $3,000 each day, bringing this past weeks net total to roughly $12,000. This isn't the organization's only event, next week they'll head to Pasco and Moses Lake the week after that.

The fraternal organization's primary philanthropy is Shriners Children Hospital. They provide resources and give funds to the hospital. While funds from this event won't go directly toward the hospital, board members said that it is part of their operational expenses to cut a check to headquarters in Tampa, Florida.