Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Bolivian Congress to end circus suffering

Posted: 27 May 2009. Updated: 15 June 2009


Animal Defenders International (ADI) is thrilled that a bill proposing a ban on the use of animals in circuses has recently been approved in the two houses of the Bolivian Congress.

The Bill, tabled by Congresswoman Ximena Flores, was accepted by the Chamber of Deputies in January and the Commission of Sustainable Development of the Senate. On 13th May 2009, the Bill was then approved by a majority in the Plenary of Senate with some minor amendments. Yesterday, the Plenary of the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved those amendments, and it will now be remitted to President Evo Morales Ayma for his signature, to become law.

The bill bans the use of wild and domestic animals in circuses in the Bolivia, as it is considered an act of cruelty against animals. The government has been given 180 days to issue regulations on confiscation and pecuniary sanctions for any breaches.

Once approved, it will be the first national law to ban the use of both domestic and wild animals in circuses. So far, the bans in Costa Rica, Sweden, Finland and Denmark only prohibit the use of wild animals or certain species.

The launch of Stop Circus Suffering campaign in Bolivia uncovered a disturbing insight behind the scenes of Bolivia’s circus industry. ADI’s field officers worked undercover in the circuses and observed:

•Lions confined in a tiny cage on the back of a truck – the adults left the cage for just ten minutes each day to perform for the show. A lion cub remained permanently in the cage. During the show, the animals were forced to jump through a ring of fire. Two of the lionesses were pregnant, but continued to perform.

•Three brown bears were kept in three compartments of a beastwagon, each measuring approx 2.5 x 3m. Their only exercise was the walk to and from the ring for their short performance. The same bear act had previously been with a circus in Peru. There was no safety barrier between the audience and the three brown bears which were made to dance, play dead and ride a bicycle.

•A mandrill kept in a small wire mesh cage – approx 1.5 x 1.5m.

The Bolivian public was horrified by the conditions the animals were forced to endure. A year after the launch of the investigation, several municipalities introduced animals circus bans in El Alto, La Paz, Santa Cruz, Tiquipaya and Cochabamba. In May 2008, these bans faced a major test when a Las Vegas, USA, based magic show featuring big cats, The Fercos Brothers, planned to appear. ADI and local animal protection groups worked together to uphold the bans and succeeded.

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, “This is a truly historic day for circus animals. The undercover investigations, the scientific research and evidence, the lobbying, the publicity campaign held in Bolivia has led to this wonderful conclusion. These moves in Bolivia set an essential precedent for South America, demonstrating that legislation to put an end to circus suffering is possible. We applaud the Bolivian Congress who has set the highest positive example for South America, which the rest of the world now needs to follow. We also salute the efforts of all the local organizations and Congresswoman Flores who along with ADI worked tirelessly to ensure Congress approved the Bill.”



For further information, contact:

ADI Press Office:
Press mobile: 07785 552548
Switchboard: 020 7630 3344.

Animal Defenders International (ADI)
With offices in London, San Francisco and Bogota, Animal Defenders International (ADI) campaigns to protect animals in entertainment, replacement of animals in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI also rescues animals in distress worldwide. Our evidence has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them.

Watch the video of us campaigning in South America

Find out more about our Stop Circus Suffering campaign

Stop Circus Suffering in Bolivia

The ‘Science on Suffering’ South America report is available here (in Spanish)

ADI footage from South America is available here

The ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ website is here

The original text of the bill:
“Ban on the use of animals in circuses. The use of wild and/or domestic animals in circus shows is banned in the whole national territory, because it is considered a cruel and unnecessary act against animals.”

Our thanks to groups that have been working with ADI in Bolivia: EBA Bolivia, ADDA Bolivia, Zooprama, Biosfera, Vida Silvestre, Animales SOS, CODAC, FOCOMADE, Foromade ORURO, Comité Interinstitucional de defensa de animales FIDO, SPAT, Resistencia Animal (La Paz) amongst others.

© Animal Defenders International 2019