Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Circus trainer mauling by tiger highlights danger of wild animals in circuses

Posted: 10 December 2009. Updated: 10 December 2009

A recent incident in Germany, in which an animal trainer was attacked, clearly shows the hazards of keeping wild animals in circuses.

The incident in Hamburg, where three tigers mauled and seriously injured a circus trainer at a celebrity circus event, is sadly not a one off occurrence, as many captive animals have killed or injured their trainers or members of the public. According to reports, the ‘experienced handler’ stumbled during a show and was attacked by the tigers.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) believes that animals such as tigers, elephants, bears and lions have no place in travelling circuses. Such wild animals should not be forced to perform in circuses as they suffer violence and confinement which can lead them to strike back against their human handlers. Living in cramped conditions can also cause them to suffer psychological damage, which is seen when they perform abnormal, repetitive behaviours like weaving, head bobbing and pacing. These are signs commonly seen in circus animals and are acknowledged as being indicators that the animal cannot cope with its environment.

Unlike domesticated animals, wild animals have not been bred over generations to be compliant and their wild nature can make them unpredictable.

ADI has carried out detailed investigations into conditions in travelling circuses and has found abuse and confinement of animals to be commonplace. Violence is commonly used to force these animals to perform so they are threatened, beaten and whipped by their trainers and keepers.

After pledging to ban wild animals in circuses in 2006*, the UK Government will launch a public consultation on new regulations on the use of wild animals in circuses in the next few weeks. With 80% of the public wanting a ban on wild animals in circuses**, ADI is urging the Government to lead the way for an introduction of a circus ban in the UK.

Jan Creamer, ADI Chief Executive, said: “This incident highlights how dangerous it is to have wild animals in public shows and circuses. These animals will always be unpredictable, and they certainly should not be tormented until they fight back. Around the world, circus workers and members of the public, including children, have been killed and maimed by circus animal attacks.”

“Animals suffer in circuses all over the world even here in the UK. We urge the Government to use this opportunity to act decisively and end circus animal suffering once and for all.”


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact:
Amanda Gent, Communications Director, ADI on +44(0)20 7630 3344 or 07785 552548 -

*In 2006, Ben Bradshaw, then minister for animal welfare at Defra, announced: “I sympathise with the view that performances by some wild animals in travelling circuses are not compatible with meeting their welfare needs. … To provide this clarity I intend to use a regulation under clause 10 of the Animal Welfare Bill to ban the use in travelling circuses of certain nondomesticated species whose welfare needs cannot be satisfactorily met in that environment.”

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

About Animal Defenders International:

Animal Defenders International exists to educate, create awareness and alleviate the suffering of animals and works to protect wildlife and the environment through offices in London, San Francisco and Bogota.

The ADI Stop Circus Suffering campaign has now been launched throughout Europe, South America and the USA. Recently, the campaign secured a ban on the use of all animals in travelling circuses in Bolivia, with similar measures currently before the parliaments of Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. Measures on the prohibition of certain species, such as wild animals, are currently being considered in the UK and Norway.

© Animal Defenders International 2019