Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

The science on suffering: Summary of scientific case (1)

Posted: 17 May 2006

5. Summary of scientific case

Collectively the evidence provided here demonstrates that animals, whether exotic or domesticated, are likely to be suffering as a result of living in a travelling circus–

  • transport has been shown to cause many indicators of stress, for example increased heart rates, rises in body temperature, lowered immunity to illness and disease, changes in hormone levels that are known to affect pregnancies, weight loss, increased instances of aggression and stereotypic behaviours.
  • husbandry practices which are inadequate and space limitations make it impossible for animals to express normal behaviour. This is turn leads to high levels of stereotypies and other abnormal behaviours, increased aggression towards other animals, increased susceptibility to disease, greater mortality and the presence of physiological indicators of stress.
  • Inappropriate social groupings cause a multitude of negative effects on animals–
  • - Isolation or separation from companions leads to complex changes in behaviour, often a decreased interest in surroundings, stereotypies, increased heart rate and vocalisations, and higher levels of physiological stress indicators.
    - Animals forced to live in close proximity with one another show increases in fighting and competitive behaviours and greater incidences of stereotypies.
    - When different species are mixed or have to live in close proximity to one another, they show a range of avoidance behaviours and spend more time being alert, as well as increases in heart rate and other physiological stress indicators.
    - When predators are in close proximity to prey, the prey species show anxiety behaviours, changes in the nervous system, a suppression of feeding and grooming behaviours, often a lowered breeding success and when they do breed, the presence of predator odour can lead to smaller litter sizes and hinder the normal development of the young.

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