Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

The science on suffering: Husbandry and close confinement (5)

Posted: 17 May 2006

Another study has found that captive black rhinoceroses appear predisposed to a skin disease which has not been identified in wild black rhinoceroses. This disease was found to show a link with periods of physical or environmental stress events, such as capture, transportation, sudden cold temperatures and the introduction of a new rhinoceros (Munson et al., 1998). It was also suggested that the unvaried diet of captive rhinoceroses compared to their wild counterparts (in the wild they have been observed to browse for more than 200 species of plants) might play a role in the development of this disease.

The studies of ungulates demonstrate once again the complexity of captive animals’ needs, and confirms that travelling circuses simply cannot facilitate these needs.


Lion and tiger husbandry

Case Study: Great British Circus.
Observations 26, 27 & 29 March 2006.

9 tigers, 5 lions.

Housing: The big cats were in three groups (5 tigers, 2 tigers, and 3 lions) in three beastwagons, cages on the backs of lorries, each measuring approx. 2.5 metres x 12 metres.

An exercise cage was not present on 26th or 27th March, but on 29th March it had been erected and was used for at least two tigers.


It is important to note that this exercise cage (measuring approx. 8.5 metres by
13.5 metres) whilst an improvement on the space available in a cage on the back of a lorry, remains inadequate for 14 big cats. In its brochure the circus describes this as “the big exercise cage”. The cage has minimal enrichment in the form of a few logs and a pedastel less than .5 metres off the ground.

Five lions and four tigers did not appear in the show – effectively a travelling zoo, without the welfare provisions of the Zoo Licensing Act 1980.

Back Next

Click here for Animal circuses: The facts

© Animal Defenders International 2019