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Animal Defenders International

Stop Circus Suffering: Greece

Posted: 3 July 2006. Updated: 19 March 2014

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Our Stop Circus Suffering campaign in Greece is ending terrible suffering as we create awareness, secure municipality bans across the country and push for national legislation. Our investigation revealed terrible suffering: a rhinoceros forced to perform; a hippopotamus living in a filthy wagon with little more than a bathtub of dirty water; tigers living in small cages on the backs of trucks. With your help we are ending the suffering, saving animals and securing laws to ensure it cannot happen again.

  • If you want to help stamp out circus suffering worldwide, donate here
  • View our Greek Stop Circus Suffering video here – warning contains disturbing images of violence to animals
  • Take a glimpse inside Greek circuses here

Ban upheld despite challenge
January 2014: Following a challenge by the Attica Zoological Park over its dolphin displays, the Ministry of Rural Development & Food considered revising the ban to exempt the establishment. Hearing the news, our friends at GAWF sprung into action and its supporters urged the Minister to maintain the ban without exemptions. Common sense prevailed and the parliament voted in favour and upheld the ban but this demonstrates that we must remain ever vigilant.

Greece bans animal circuses
We are delighted to announce that the Greek Government has banned the use of all animals in circuses following a campaign by ADI and the Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF), backed by over 50 local animal protection groups across Greece. The new animal protection law also addresses a number of important issues concerning stray animals.
Read more
See also our report in the Summer 2012 Animal Defender magazine here.

Greek Government promises circus ban
July 2011: Following an intense campaign led by ADI and our campaign partners, the Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF), the draft animal protection bill has been published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Foods. The draft includes a ban on the use of all animals in circuses as well as provisions on humane stray management, tail docking and neutering programmes. The draft bill is awaiting the signature of the Minister before being introduced in parliament.

Peru bans animal circuses – Greece next?
ADI’s global Stop Circus Suffering campaign has secured another stunning victory with Peru banning wild animals in circuses. This followed a two year undercover investigation of South American circuses by ADI Field Officers followed by an intense ADI campaign. This follows hot on the heels of the victory in Bolivia – where ADI rescued every circus animal. ADI is currently pursuing legislation to ban animal circuses in Greece, the USA, the UK, Colombia, and Brazil.
Find out more about our campaign in Peru
Help us prevent more suffering – donate now

Proposals for Greek law on circuses and increased fines for animal abusers
January 2011: Evgenia Mataragka met with Milena Apostolaki, the junior minister at the Ministry of Agriculture and Foods, to discuss a ban on animal circuses, presenting ADI evidence and background information on legislation to ban animal circuses around the world. Increased fines for animal abuse were also discussed. Mrs Apostolaki made a commitment to bring forward to the Greek parliament, within the next month, a law that will ban all animal circuses in Greece.

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ADI secure circus ban in Bolivia and rescues every animal!
The global Stop Circus Suffering campaign has been given a huge boost by ADI’s Operation Lion Ark in Bolivia. Not only did ADI secure a ban on all animal circuses in Bolivia, but worked with the Bolivian authorities to enforce the ban. In a landmark operation, ADI teams raided eight circuses defying the ban, rescuing every animal and closing down the entire animal circus industry at a stroke. Monkeys, horses, and other animals were saved by ADI, with almost 30 lions being flown to our sanctuary facilities in the USA.
Read about ADI’s Operation Lion Ark
Adopt one of our rescued Bolivian circus animals

National legislation to ban animal circuses in Greece
2010: Four years after ADI launched Stop Circus Suffering Greece, with our campaign partner the Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF), the Greek Government is considering a ban on all animal acts. We met with Minister Karchimakis following the election and they expressed interest in such a move. In March, Evgenia Mataragka met with junior ministers at the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss this initiative.

Greek school children get ADI rescue DVDs as prizes
This year’s Schools Competition from the Greek Animal Welfare Fund attracted a huge 5,500 with many children submitting entries on why circuses are no place for animals. ADI donated prizes of our rescue DVDs Big Cat Rescue and Toto Goes Home. Toto Goes Home tells the incredible story of Toto a chimpanzee torn from the wild and sold to a circus, where he was discovered and rescued by ADI who took him home to Africa; after 20 years alone he rejoined other chimps. Big Cat Rescue tells the story of two rescues where ADI closed circuses in Mozambique and Portugal saving lions and tigers.
Click here to watch Toto Goes Home
Click here to watch Big Cat Rescue
Click here to find out about adopting our rescued circus animals

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Video of elephant abuse in Greek circus
ADI ask the Greek Ministry of Agriculture and the Greek Embassy in the UK to investigate after an elephant is filmed being abused, beaten and dragged with a bullhook, in Circo Massimo in Florina. Agriculture Minister Sotirios Chatzigakis publicly announces that the incident was “out of tune with our culture”.
Read more
View the footage

Bans in Kalamata, Serres and Aridea Pellas
2007: Bans secured in Kalamata and Serres. Circo Medrano defies the Serres ban, leading to the arrest of two circus workers and when the circus ignores a block on their licence in Corfu, the manager is arrested and the police impose a fine and halts the performances. Three months later, Aridea Pellas bans animal circuses, bringing the total number of Greek Municipality bans to 27.

Malia bans animal circuses
Malia bans animal circuses following the launch of Stop Circus Suffering Greece. This is the first animal circus ban in Crete, and is followed by bans in Komotini and Anavissos.
Read more

Regional bans secured
Regional bans secured in Thessaloniki, Patras, Xanthi, Eleftheron, Kavala, Glika Nera Attikis, Elefsina, Lamia and Nea Makri, Thermi, Kalamaria and Preveza following the launch of our campaign.

Inside Greek circuses
Our video exposes the reality of life for circus animals, showing the confinement and deprivation endured by animals on the road as well as the violence inflicted on them behind the scenes. The video also pinpoints the dangers of keeping animals in travelling menageries and how the public are put at risk.

View images from inside Greek circuses here

Stop Circus Suffering Greece launched
ADI unveils one of the biggest animal protection campaigns Greece has ever seen. Launched with 50 Greek-based animal welfare groups in Crete, Thessaloniki, Athens, and Halkida, the campaign aims to end the use of animals in Greek circuses. The launch receives enormous publicity nationally and locally, with interviews on Crete TV, Greek Cable TV and National TV, with one Cretan TV station screening our video in full.
Read more
View photos of the launch here

New campaign resources
A new Greek version of our Stop Circus Suffering video new leaflets
and local and national petitions produced with the support of the GAWF.

  • Read about our global Stop Circus Suffering campaign here
  • Make a donation to support our campaign and investigations here


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