Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Animals in Traveling Circuses: 7. Case study: Animals in Traveling Circuses in South America

Posted: 10 May 2008


ADI has conducted extensive studies of the use of animals in traveling circuses all over the world for nearly two decades, using methods of observational data, videotape and photographs, collected by our Field Officers who work undercover in the circus industry. ADI then reviews these findings, set in the context of the published scientific evidence on animal welfare and behavior, and presents evidence to governments to inform decision-making.

ADI has found that the circus industry is a global, close-knit, community with many circuses related by family connections, with a common culture.

Drawn together, these studies have revealed consistencies in working practices throughout the industry. Indeed the differences in working practices, animal husbandry and training methods between the circus industries of Europe, South and North America differ in little more than presentational ways. This is not surprising given that animal living quarters need to be completely portable so any scope for development is highly limited, the tricks being taught to the animals are broadly the same, presenters and animals move throughout the industry, and the timing of shows follows the normal pattern of the working week, and weekends.

In March, 2007 ADI publish the report “Stop Circus Suffering in South America” that contains an exhaustive investigation related to the confinement, deprivation, physical abuse, travel/traffic of endangered species and public safety. Regarding animal abuse, we summarize the following findings:

  • Goats being struck and punctured with solid bars and whipped during training.
  • Dogs repeatedly struck with solid bars during training, the signs of pain of the animals were ignored.
  • A lion struck and beaten with a metal bar during his performance.
  • Bulls controlled by punches in the head and being pulled by a nose ring.
  • A Lion repeatedly flogged and struck with a metal post.
  • Goats strongly flogged during trainings.
  • A donkey kicked and beaten.
  • A horse was struck by a wooden board to force it to go through a ramp, to be transported.
  • A llama flogged continuously.
  • The chimpanzee “Karla” shouting after having being struck in the face and beaten with a chain by her trainer.
  • Ponies whipped during training
  • The chimpanzee “Panchito” being struck and chased by his trainer; the scared animal was shouting due to the attacks.
  • A circus worker throwing stones to a monkey
  • Lions being punctured pulled from the tail and flogged to order them to perform.
  • A trainer pulling strongly a Capuchin monkey, forcing it to act. The same trainer was struggling with an ocelot, inflicting enormous cruelty.
  • During the show the lions were punctured with bars, forcing them to obey the orders. The lion cubs were struck in the head.
  • Two starving lions of an travelling circus, were seized by the Peruvian authorities on July 21, 2007. The lions we found with serious digestive illnesses and arthritis, therefore 3 days after the seizure they had to be euthanized.

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