Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Suffering exposed inside the Brazilian circus industry

Posted: 30 October 2008


Suffering exposed inside the Brazilian circus industry

Pressure mounts for Brazil to ban animal circuses

Sao Paulo – Today Animal Defenders International (ADI) is launching a new Stop Circus Suffering Brazil campaign in conjunction with Brazilian animal protection groups AILA, GAP, ANAMI and with the backing of cruelty-free cosmetics company Surya.

A new DVD with footage from circuses around the world, including footage filmed this year inside Brazil’s Circo Estoril and Circo Stankowich, will be unveiled today, accompanied by a scientific report exposing the suffering of animals in travelling circuses.

The shocking new DVD is narrated by popular young actress Daniela Adler Piepszyk who donated her time to the new campaign.

Where: Espaço do Bosque, Rua Werner Siemens, 111, Lapa
When: 14:00 Thursday October 29th, 2008

Having uncovered shocking abuse, confinement and deprivation behind the scenes in circuses throughout South America, Europe and the USA, this year an ADI Field Officer secured a position inside Circo Estoril and also obtained footage behind the scenes of Circo Stankowich revealing a disturbing insight behind the scenes of Brazil’s circus industry.

  • Camels being punched, hit with a stick, struck with a tent pole, and their lips being twisted to inflict pain;
  • A solitary elephant chained by the legs barely able to move;
  • A child allowed to torment a camel;
  • A camel forced to travel whilst pregnant and giving birth in a temporary pen on bare concrete;
  • A solitary bear forced to live in a cage on the back of a lorry;
  • A llama having its ear twisted to make it obey;
  • An elephant chained in a noisy and frightening environment, in a stadium with deafening engine noise and flashing lights.

The DVD features undercover footage from other South American countries including Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia, with many circuses that are believed to move throughout the continent. This evidence includes video footage depicting:

  • Chimpanzees punched in the face; one female beaten with a chain;
  • Lions kicked, struck with metal tent poles and kept in small cages;
  • Ponies whipped repeatedly during training;
  • Horses, monkeys and bulls punched and beaten with various weapons;
  • Dogs struck numerous times with a metal bar during training sessions;

Animals kept in severely restricted or inappropriate (environmentally deprived and inadequate) conditions.

Helder Constantino, Senior Political Officer with ADI, and Juan Pablo Olmos, ADI South America Campaigns Co-ordinator, will be launching the campaign in Sao Paulo and then moving on to present the evidence to the Brazilian Congress, which is currently considering a ban on the use of animals in travelling circuses (substitutive Bill No. 7291/2006).

Helder Constantino: "This new DVD is a damning indictment of the way animals are used and abused in the name of entertainment. Our investigations have revealed confinement, deprivation, and violence towards circus animals to be commonplace. In addition, our report,"The Science on Suffering” confirms that animals in travelling circuses are suffering. We urge the Brazilian Congress to accelerate its efforts to stop the abuse of animals in Brazil."

The evidence released in ADI’s 1998 undercover investigation of the use of animals in the circus industry, which was distributed throughout South America, has played an important role in securing bans on animal circuses in towns and cities all over the country. This has been followed by a series of investigations over the past 6 years, in several South American countries.

Prohibitions are now in place in over thirty cities in the states of Sao Paulo, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, amongst others.
This movement for change is spreading throughout the world, as people see the evidence behind the scenes, and conclude that to treat the other species that share our planet in this way is not the behaviour of an advanced, civilised society.

Juan Pablo Olmos: "The suffering of animals in travelling circuses is without doubt. We hope that Brazil will lead the way in South America by ending this unnecessary suffering once and for all. We know that anyone who sees our DVD or reads our report will support this campaign."

AILA: "Abolishing the use of animals in circuses is one more step for the evolution of civilization. These majestic animals are treated as if they do not have feelings or are incapable of experiencing pain. They will be used like this for decades."

A number of countries are now discussing bans on the use of animals in travelling circuses following the launch of ADI Stop Circus Suffering campaigns including Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Greece and the UK. In the USA, the USDA is currently investigating following an ADI exposé of sustained abuse of elephants in a US circus. Costa Rica, Austria, Singapore and Hungary have already banned the use of wild animals in circuses.

ADI, and our campaign partners, also plan to get the backing of the public for a ban in Brazil with new leaflets and posters being distributed; a new public information drive in conjunction with Surya, will follow.

For a copy of the report, the new DVD, broadcast rushes, print resolution photographs, please contact Helder Constantino at 00447899685203 or

About Animal Defenders International

Animal Defenders International has office in London, San Fancisco and Bogota, and works to end the suffering of animals. The use of animals in entertainment, especially in circuses, is a key focus, with the aim of educating the public and informing legislators.

ADI collaborates with partner organizations worldwide, sharing information about the use of animals in the entertainment industry. ADI undercover field officers work alongside the circus workers, filming, photographing, and making detailed observations of day-to-day life and animal care practices. In addition to gathering this evidence our researchers study the scientific literature on the effects of captivity in animals, so that we can provide governments and decision-makers with relevant scientific data to inform their decisions about the protection of animals in circuses.

ADI evidence of animal suffering has led to national and local restrictions on animal circuses across Europe, South America and Asia. We have also rescued and rehomed circus animals such as lions, tigers, horses, dogs, reptiles and chimpanzees.

Following our exposure of an African circus suspected of smuggling, a seven-year campaign achieved new international regulations for the cross-border movement of endangered species with circuses, effective in over 170 countries.

Where necessary, ADI assists the authorities with prosecutions for cruelty and has played a key role in producing evidence for prosecutions in the UK and South America. The USDA is currently investigating an ADI exposé of a Texas elephant trainer.

In 2008 ADI is active with our ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign in both the U.S. and South America. Our colleagues in ADI partner groups are active in the U.K., Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Norway, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Scientific report provides evidence of circus animal suffering

Click for PDF - Portuguese
Click for PDF - English

ADI backs Brazilian legislation to ban animal circuses

Suffering exposed inside the Brazilian circus industry

Press conference photo gallery

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