Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI urges Britney Spears to stop glamourising animals in circuses in her pop videos

Posted: 11 December 2008

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has written to pop star Britney Spears to express concern over the use of exotic animals in her latest music video ‘Circus’.

Britney is seen in a circus ring with two adult male lions positioned on podiums. In other scenes, two performing elephants are shown in a circus ring, one of them standing up unnaturally on two back legs.

ADI’s undercover Field Officers have worked alongside circus workers for over a decade, recording animal care practices, animal welfare, accommodation and attitudes to animals. Our evidence has been used by authorities to prosecute those who abuse animals. More recently, our investigation of the use of animals in circuses in the U.S has prompted an investigation by the USDA.

Our studies of scientific evidence on suffering show that the constant travel, severe confinement and poor environment in the circus means that animals cannot express their normal behaviour patterns or live in normal social groups. This causes psychological damage and abnormal behaviours.

Setting aside instances of abuse, ADI has concluded that with the best will in the world, circuses simply cannot provide their animals with the facilities they need to keep them healthy, either physically or psychologically. Thus, the animals’ welfare will always be compromised.

ADI’s ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign calls for worldwide bans on the use of animals in circuses. Our undercover investigations have revealed shocking examples of animal cruelty and abuse towards animals in circuses. Distressing footage of elephants was filmed at Bailey Brothers Circus as it toured through Texas, and features a female elephant dragged to her knees and kicked in the face, electric shocks being given to the elephants during ‘training’ sessions, and also shocks to their stomachs when they were walking to the ring to perform. A USDA investigation is under way. Footage can be found here:

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, says “We have asked Britney to consider the suffering behind the scenes in the circus, and take a stand on this issue. Many people do not realise the true cost to animals, for our entertainment. Intelligent, feeling animals like elephants, who would normally live in close family groups are not there just for our amusement. ADI urges all artistes considering the use of animals to think twice, and give animals their dignity and to help us put an end to the suffering.”


The full-length video for the Britney Spears ‘Circus’ song can be found here:

A letter has been sent by ADI to Britney Spears’s record company.

The scientific report ‘Animals in Travelling Circuses: The Science on Suffering’ can be downloaded here:
A copy of the report has been sent to Britney Spears.

The ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ DVD, including footage from the United States can be downloaded from the AnimalDefenders site on here:
A copy has been sent to Britney Spears.

It is not the first time Britney Spears has encountered criticism for her use of animals. During an MTV Video Music Awards performance in 2001, she utilised caged animals during a performance.

Findings from an ADI Mori Poll in the UK in 2005 include:
80% say ban all wild animal circus acts.
65% say ban all animal circus acts.
90% against whipping and beating when training circus animals.

© Animal Defenders International 2019