6 children, 1 adult injured when camel throws them at Shrine Circus in Pittsburgh |

6 children, 1 adult injured when camel throws them at Shrine Circus in Pittsburgh

Emily Balser
Several children were injured when a camel threw them off during the Pittsburgh Shrine Circus at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018.
Several children were injured when a camel threw them off during the Pittsburgh Shrine Circus at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018.

Six children and one adult were taken to the hospital Sunday after they were thrown from a camel during the Shrine Circus at PPG Paints Arena, according to Pittsburgh Police spokesman Chris Togneri.

Togneri said five children were transported to Children’s Hospital of UPMC with minor injuries, and one child was taken to UPMC Mercy with a fractured arm — the most serious injury.

One adult was also transported to a local hospital with minor injuries.

The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. at intermission when, as part of the circus, kids can get rides on the camels and ponies.

Togneri said the circus handlers had the camel under control in 11 seconds and EMS was already standing by to treat the injured.

No animals were injured and all animals, including the camel, were checked out and cleared by a veterinarian.

The circus continued with no other incidents.

It’s unknown why the camel became “spooked” and bucked the children and adult.

Pittsburgh Police and the Shrine Circus are reviewing the incident.

The incident prompted animal rights origination PETA to issue a statement Sunday evening.

PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews said the following:

“This dangerous incident is exactly what Pittsburgh’s ban on using weapons to threaten wild and exotic animals should be preventing. Had the Shriners abided by the law and left animals out of their show, instead of taking the city to court, this camel and these children would have been spared this terror and possible injury. PETA is calling on the Syria Shriners to let this be the straw that ends the camel acts and urging the public never to buy a ticket to any circus that uses animals.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signed legislation in December banning the use of any device that could inflict pain, intimidate or give the impression of inflicting pain for training or controlling wild or exotic animals.

The Syria Shrine Circus opposed and protested the legislation. They said at the time it would “effectively end the Shrine Circus as we know it.”

Local animal protection organization Humane Action Pittsburgh posted about the incident on Facebook, condemning the practice of animal circuses.

“This is yet another reason animal circuses should be banned. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those hurt in the Syria Shriners Circus today at PPG Paints Arena,” the Facebook post said. “We hope the Bullhook Plus Ban will be upheld in the future to keep animals and the public safe.”

A message left for the Syria Shrine Circus Sunday evening was not immediately returned.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated there were 11 children on the camel.

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