Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Animal Circuses belong to the past (2)

Posted: 30 October 2008


Instead of roaming on the African plain in the early morning sunshine, this king of the beasts huddles in a metal container in the freezing snow. A polar bear must swap the vast frozen wastes, a world where he would hunt and swim for a cage on the back of a lorry in the sweltering heat, with just a small domestic fan to keep him cool. Shy, solitary, and nocturnal animals endure the constant gaze of visitors, and they are given nowhere to hide. For them, this is torture.

Here in the circus, some of the rarest animals on earth can be found living in miserable conditions, and enduring the same violence as, the other animals. Yet, circuses play no role in conservation, they are not part of organised captive breeding programmes, indeed some animals will have been snatched from the wild.

Circuses display, and breed, unnatural animals, like this lion tiger cross known as a Liger, or this zebra donkey cross known as a zebroid. Here, circuses present animals like freakshows of past centuries, when humans were ignorant and did not know any better.

Chimpanzees are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, sharing 98% of our genetic material, using tools, maintaining family bonds and social structures, and their very survival in the wild is threatened. In the circus they are degraded, dominated and imprisoned .Many chimps continue to live out their lives with circuses.

What does this tell us about our own species?

Circus animal acts do not teach respect for animals but ignorance. Audiences are shown an undignified cartoon caricature of the animal, often presented to make the trainer look strong and brave. But these are real, suffering animals, often torn from their natural world. One of the great circus myths is that these animals are trained by kindness and reward. But training takes place in secret. Again and again, circus animals are shown that if they disobey the trainer, they will be punished. Even huge, powerful animals can be beaten into submission. For circus animals their world is one of confinement and frustration punctuated by violence. Even if animals are sick or injured, the show must go on and the circus

Surgical procedures may be conducted on the road. Animal Defenders International has witnessed trainers concealing sick animals, and treating the animals themselves, instead of getting a vet. Pregnant animals may be forced to travel and perform right up until they give birth. This is illegal in some countries, but circuses like to have baby animals on tour because they look so appealing; they attract the crowds and people can be charged to have their photograph taken with them.

Young animals, so inquisitive and playful, will grow old in the same barren cages and they will learn from an early age that disobedience will not be tolerated. It is a lesson that will be repeated throughout their lives.

Even when the circuses are off the road, the animals generally live in the same conditions. Cages on trucks may be parked up full of animals waiting for the next season and elephants will spend their time chained or penned in barns waiting for the next touring season. If the circus thinks it is acceptable whilst touring - what else would we expect here?

Little wonder that many of these animals go out of their minds. Frustrated, repetitive, stereotypic behaviour takes over. These pointless movements repeated again and again, with the animal no longer aware of its surroundings are not witnessed in the wild. These disturbed, repetitive movements are a recognised sign of mental distress. We call it circus madness. Such disturbed behaviour is common in many of the animals with the circus.

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. Already, governments, local authorities, and municipalities from Europe to Asia to South America have taken action to ban the use of animals in circuses. So please help us end this shocking and unnecessary cruelty.

Remember, circus animals live and die in their miserable prisons and the circus says it is just to entertain you.

Scientific report provides evidence of circus animal suffering

Click for PDF - English
Click for PDF - Portuguese

Suffering exposed inside the Brazilian circus industry

Pressure mounts for Brazil to ban animal circuses

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