I applaud all the good work of the Shriners, but I cannot support their annual circus.

Elephants and tigers don't perform these circus tricks because they want to — they do so because they are afraid of what will happen to them if they don't.

Cruel behind-the-scenes training sessions teach them that they must perform or they will suffer the painful consequences. An undercover investigation of the tiger act that is scheduled to appear with the upcoming circus at the La Crosse Center confirmed exactly that. Video footage shows tigers cowering as the trainer repeatedly whips at them and hits them with a stick. Think about trying to convince a house cat to hop on her hind legs, and then imagine what it would take to make a wild tiger do the same.

Ringling Bros. Circus admitted that the public's growing distaste for wild animal acts contributed to its decision to close its shows. Other circuses are getting rid of wild animal acts and focusing on amazingly talented human performers. The Shriners are dating themselves by clinging to a form of entertainment that fewer and fewer people are interested in viewing or supporting.

The Shriners can continue their good work without exploiting wild animals, and we should not support this cruelty.

Margie Webster, La Crosse

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