As lead vocalist of punk-rock band Rise Against, Tim McIlrath is no stranger to stepping up to perform under bright lights, surrounded by the roar of a crowd — but as he’s quick to point out in his new video for peta2, PETA's youth division, “I make a choice every time I take the stage. I choose to perform. Animals in captivity don’t get to make that choice.”
That’s why McIlrath is calling for a boycott of SeaWorld, Ringling Bros., and other companies that turn a profit by forcing orcas, elephants, and other animals to perform at aquariums, in circuses, and at theme parks.
“Elephants are not meant to do handstands,” McIlrath says in the video. “Tigers are not meant to jump through rings of fire. Dolphins are not meant to live in swimming pools.” But as he explains, that’s what happens in the entertainment industry: Orcas are often separated from their families and forced to live in tiny concrete tanks that, to them, are the size of a bathtub. During circus training, baby elephants are stretched out, slammed to the ground, gouged with steel-tipped bullhooks — weapons that resemble fireplace pokers with a sharp steel hook on one end — and shocked with electric prods. When tigers and elephants aren’t on stage, they’re kept caged or chained for up to 23 hours a day.
“Animals deserve a life that’s better than this. They deserve to live free, not as slaves for our entertainment.”
Rise Against is currently touring in support of their seventh studio album, The Black Market. McIlrath is part of a long list of musicians—including Davey Havok, Brett Gurewitz, Serj Tankian, Mike Ness, Dave Navarro, Tom Morello, and Fall Out Boy's Andy Hurley — who have teamed up with peta2 to promote the group’s motto, “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.”