Good news for circus fans, the Western Montana Shrine Club Circus will feature elephants and exotic animals at next week's performances, before the city sponsored ban takes effect in the fall. 

Shrine Club Circus Chairman Dean Gillmore said circus-goers will be able to enjoy the 'full circus experience' next weekend at the Adams Center on the University of Montana campus.

"The circus this year will be the same as it always has been, the new law doesn't go into effect until this fall," Gillmore said. "At this year's circus, they'll see elephants and elephant rides, lions and tigers, acrobats and lots of fun for the whole family."

Gillmore said the annual Shrine Circus is the primary fundraiser for the organization.

"The money that we generate from the circus we make a direct donation to the Shriners Hospital in Spokane," he said. That money also goes to providing travel and lodging expenses for the children and their families We clear between $20,000 and $25,000 after expenses each year, and I have no idea how we'll make that up if we have to discontinue the circus."

Gillmore said he's been in contact with other circus providers that do not feature exotic animals, but nothing has been solidified yet.

"We're also looking into some circuses that put their show on under the big top so we can move it out of the city limits," he said.

After last year's Shrine Circus, the Missoula City Council passed an ordinance banning the use or display of exotic animals within the city limits.

The circus will be held at the Adams Center on Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9, with performances at 3 and 7 p.m. on Friday, and Saturday at 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. There is no charge for children to attend, and adult tickets are available at area grocery stores.

"We were just on our way to hand out free circus tickets at the elementary schools today, since the have spring break next week," Gillmore said.

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