Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Circus trainer death highlights danger of keeping wild animals in circuses

Posted: 23 October 2009

The death of a circus trainer in Russia demonstrates the hazardous nature of keeping wild animals in circuses. This incident, where an ice-skating brown bear mauled and killed a circus trainer and seriously injured another, is not a one off as many animals have killed or injured their trainers or members of the public.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) believes that animals such as bears, tigers, elephants and lions should not be forced to perform in circuses as they suffer violence and confinement which can lead to them retaliating against their captors, and also causes them to suffer psychological damage which is seen when they perform abnormal, repetitive behaviours like weaving, head bobbing and pacing. All of these signs are seen in circus animals and are known indicators that the animal cannot cope with its environment.

Non-domesticated species in travelling circuses have not been bred over generations to be compliant and their wild nature can make them unpredictable. In order to motivate these animals to perform they are regularly threatened, hit, whipped and screamed at by their handlers.

Extensive investigations by ADI have shown abuse and confinement of animals to be commonplace in travelling circuses. Earlier this year ADI filmed behind the scenes at the Great British Circus and witnessed shocking scenes of violence towards circus elephants.

Jan Creamer, ADI Chief Executive, said: “Keeping large animals in travelling circuses is a recipe for disaster. To make these animals perform tricks in the name of so-called entertainment, they are subjected to repetitive violence and are kept in cramped, unsuitable trailers and tents. They suffer on a daily basis at the hands of their keepers which can lead to disastrous situations such as this incident in Russia.”

“This mistreatment goes on all over the world and even here on our very shores. The UK Government has failed to fulfil its commitment to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, ignoring the evidence and the recommendations of all major animal welfare groups. Now is the time for the Government to act decisively and end this suffering once and for all.”

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