“We’re not there to talk to anyone who does not want to talk to us,” said storeowner Lorraine Guptill. “We’re not there to criticize.”
The Shrine Circus has courted controversy lately for using live animals in its acts. Guptill said. She isn’t against the Shriners specifically. “I like them,” she said. “I would happily do fundraisers for them.” What Lorraine opposes is the treatment the circus animals are getting.
“Lots of people don’t know what goes on behind closed doors,” Guptill said. “Every year we have a lot of people who say they’re sorry they went in and they’re never coming back.”
Last year, some of the trainers came out and engaged the protestors. Sometimes, Guptill said, the police are called.
“Every year the police come and say we’re swearing and we’re not,” Guptill said.
Guptill said bullhooks and stunguns are used on the animals in training, and their wounds are staunched with Miracle Dust from the vet. Elephants stand on concrete when they should be standing on dirt, and they are chained up when they should be walking fifty miles a day.
“Do you really think the tigers jump through rings of fire because they want to?” Guptill asked.
Protesting circus animal abuse is a hefty time commitment, and while Guptill said she’s willing to stand out and protest alone, it takes her entire family to get her there.
“I run a store seven days a week. I’m a grandma. I have to wangle everybody’s schedule so I can do this.”
Guptill is ready for the protest and she’s got some success in her back pocket. In 2012, she and about 90 people showed up to protest the Ringling Bros. Circus, and the circus hasn’t been back since.
“Sometimes you just reach a time in your life where you can’t be silent anymore,” Guptill said.
In preparation for a Friday, June 20, protest at Boise’s Century Link arena where the Shrine Circus will parade its animals, a local storeowner expects to attract around 20-40 animal rights activists.