Circus’s and Performing Animal Shows Are Not Entertainment (2023)

Circus’s and Performing Animal Shows Are Not Entertainment (1)

Circus’s and Performing Animal Shows Are Not Entertainment

All forms of entertainment using captive wild animals to perform for humans is full of endless misery, stress, anxiety, pain and suffering for the animal. These animals are captured at a very young age and forcibly taken away from their families and natural environment—alone and separated forever. In order to control these animals, they endure horrific training practices where they experience psychological, emotional and physical trauma and abuse daily to perform tricks and acts against their will. During training, trainers use whips, blunt sticks, electronic prods and sharp objects to punish the animal into submission and to break their spirits.

Performing animals live lives of desperate boredom, frustration, and anguish—chained and confined in exceptionally small stalls or cages, where they are immobile the majority of their lives and are deprived of exhibiting their natural instincts and behaviors. Each animal is robbed of living the natural life they were meant to live and instead are forced to perform unnatural, often painful acts, and are exploited for money and profits.

Attending or patronizing circuses and performing animal shows means that you are supporting theexploitation and subjugation of wild animals for personal entertainment that causes theirsuffering and misery.

About Circuses

Circus’s and Performing Animal Shows Are Not Entertainment (2)Circus animals are deprived from birth of living a life that is natural for them. They have been robbed of their families, social units, natural environments, freedom to move and roam, and instead are forced into experiencing a lifetime of physical and emotional mistreatment, abuse, cruelty, immobilization, confinement, noise, crowds, filth, constant travel—and the deprivation of the ability to engage in their deepest natural and instinctual behaviors. Life for these animals is monotonous, full of pain, stress and frustration.

Watching wild animals perform unnatural tricks does not help animals in the wild, nor teach children to respect or appreciate animals. Instead, circuses and performing animal shows teach children that it’s acceptable to mistreat, exploit, subjugate and break the spirits of animals for our amusement and entertainment. Circuses do not teach wildlife conservation, protection of species, endangerment of species, or anything of value regarding animal welfare, animal protection and respect for animals. Circuses are purely entertainment at the expense of animals’ well-being, welfare, happiness and the natural environmentthey should have the right to live in.

Training Animals to Perform

Animals in circuses experience a lifetime of suffering from the time they are kidnapped from their family in the wild, or from the breeder they purchased the animal from. They are trained at a very young age with methods that use fear, violence, threats, intimidation and pain—causing enormous stress for them. Animal trainers use harsh and repeated punishment and cruel abuse to break their spirit in order to control them. Standard industry practice is the use of bull hooks and other sharp objects to hit, shock, strike, prod and punish in order to “train” them. There is little positive reinforcement or rewards used, like food or treats. Instead these trainers teach that humans are to be feared. Animals used in circuses or for entertainment are not allowed or encouraged to express their natural behaviors. Instead, they incur months of abusive training to learn tricks they don’t want to perform, then are forced to execute them flawlessly, night after night, day after day, for the rest of their miserable lives, until they are physically spent. Circus animals literally are driven insane from experiencing prolonged and deep frustration, abuse and aggression from trainers over their lifetime—and they can and do lash out and rebel as a result.

Hardships of Being on the Road for Circus Animals

Traveling circus animals can spend up to 11 months of the year on the road. They are confined inside very small stalls or cages, traveling for thousands of hours, over very long distances. It’s disturbing, disrupting, unnatural, frightening and stressful for them. Nearly all circus animals are chained up and immobilized while traveling, and they often must live, sleep and sit in their own waste for long periods. They are transported in oversize trucks or trains that are not temperature controlled—exposing these animals to extremes in temperature—both hot and cold. Traveling poses many physical risks to them, including accidents, injuries, heat stroke and overheating, unusual cold and freezing temperatures that can make them sick, loud noises, and general discomfort. They were not born for this life; they do not want this life; but we humans force this life on them.

Performing and Behind the Scenes

The tricks these animals perform are often painful for them. The movements and poses are completely unnatural and can cause physical trauma and stress. When circus animals don’t perform the trick right, they are often beaten as punishment. Bull hooks, whips and electrical prods are used to make sure they obey and perform on command. Behind the scenes, animals are chained and immobilized nearly 24/7 except for training and performing. While not performing, the animals have nothing to do except stare at the walls, many are confined to living in dark places with no daylight, no sunlight, and no exposure to the outside for stimulation. Performing is not proper exercise for any of these species, nor is it play to them. Virtually 95 percent of their lives are spent in chains, cages, and barren conditions, where they live mind-numbing, bored, completely unnatural lives.

No Regulatory or Animal Welfare Protections

There are few regulatory protections in place for circus or performing animals, and those that exist, are often ignored and not enforced for our federal government. Circuses and traveling shows must comply with the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) along with local laws, but none of these regulations address the cruelty and abuse done to the animals. Most circuses and performing animal shows have a long history of violations against the AWA, but since there is no enforcement of the laws, these businesses continue with the violations. Here are somefact sheetsaddressing violations of specific circuses that continually violate the AWA.

There will never be enough laws to keep circus animals safe and free from harm, but the public can boycott these shows, share the truth about these shows on social media, and write or call state legislators, city councils and federal legislators and ask for a ban on circuses and performing animal shows that use animals.

How to Report A Circus or Performing Animal Show?Complete and submitThis Form.

Get theFACTS

Circuses and theLAW

See Circus-SpecificFACT SHEETS

See the List ofCircuses That USE Animals

List ofCircuses that DON’T USE Animals

Download Born Free’s PDF brochure for children, order for a classhere

What You Can Do

  1. NEVER attend circuses with animals. Ask family and friends to do the same.
  2. DO ATTEND only circuses and venues that have animal-free entertainment or human-only entertainment
  3. REPORT A CIRCUS!Circus or event using animals coming to your area? Please submitRead how here!
  4. TRACK Abuses – When you visit a zoo, track any abuses or substandard conditions where animals are suffering, using thisZoo Check Form. You can either complete itonlineor download thePDFto fill out, then mail it back to Born Free USA.
  5. READ Surplus Animals: The Cycle of Hell, A Study of Captive Wildlife in the U.S., by PAWS.
  6. CREATE an animal-friendly school policy if going to school – Tell teachers not to attend any animal performing event and why, and distribute the brochure PDF above.
  7. SIGN PETITIONS – Sign petitions, write letters, make phone calls asking circus management to drop the animal acts, and use only human performers. Do the same with local city/county officials.Here’s How You Can Be an Advocate for performing animals.
  8. WRITE LETTERS – Write letters to newspaper editors and to the sponsors telling them circuses don’t need to feature wild animals to entertain. Ask retailers that support circuses with free tickets to STOP supporting circuses with animal acts.Here’s How You Can Be an Advocate for performing animals.
  9. SIGN UP – For Action Alert newsletters by nonprofits protecting wildlife and animal welfare. Sign up forPAWS newsletter here.
  10. EDUCATE YOURSELF – Read more about circuses and circus animals at these websites:Born Free USA,Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee,Performing Animal Welfare Society, andPeople for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
  11. LEARN MORE – How you can help,visit PAWS
  12. SPREAD the Word! Share this page on social media, speak out against circuses that use animals.

Animal Welfare Groups Addressing Captive, Performing Animals and Zoos

Articles About the Circus

5 Reasons Why Animal Circuses in the U.S. Need to be Banned NOW!, One Green Planet

Circuses Are No Fun For Animals, Encyclopedia Britannia

11 Facts About Circus Animal Abuse, Do Something

10 Reasons Not To Attend The Circus,PETA

Circuses, PETA

Keep wildlife in the wild.

Photo Credits: Header photo courtesy of Pixabay,

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