The circus is supposed to be fun for everyone, right? Wrong! Have you ever thought what the circus is like for the animals who perform in it? Sadly, they are often not treated with respect or kindness.
Spending life locked alone until it's time to rehearse or perform and traveling from town to town is not a healthy life for exotic animals like elephants, bears, apes and big cats who perform in circuses.
In many circuses, animals are trained through the use of intimidation and physical abuse. Former circus employees have reported seeing animals beaten, whipped, poked with sharp objects and even burned to force them to learn their routines. They are taught that if they do not obey the animal trainer, they will be abused physically.
Many circus animals are kept in small cages, away from their natural environments. Don't you think a Bengal tiger would have more fun running through a Himalayan forest than jumping through a hoop? Animals are likely to get sick as a result of these unnatural conditions. Many even die in captivity.
Making an animal do something he wasn't meant to do or doesn't want to do is a form of cruelty, too. Elephants are not meant to do balancing acts, bears aren't meant to dance, and lions are not meant to jump through flaming hoops. It is disrespectful to make animals perform tricks for human audiences.
Would you want to be forced to perform embarrassing stunts every day, then sleep alone in a small cage at night? Circus animals should not have to, either.
Do you know that you can help make a difference in the lives of animals who are forced to perform at circuses? Here's what you can do:
Don't go to the circusunless it's one that doesn't feature any animal performers.
Most people who attend the circus aren't aware of the abuse that goes on behind the scenes. Spread the word by writing a letter to the editor of the local paper when the circus is in the area. For ideas on what to include in your letter, visit the Circus section on ASPCA.org.
Learn as much as you can about the different kinds of animals who perform in circuses. Find out where and how they live in the wild. You can also find out what conservation groups are doing to help these species in the wild. Support them and tell them how much you care about these animals.
Here’s a list of circuses that don’t use animal performers.
For information on tigers, visit:
- Save the Tiger Fund
For information on lions, visit:
- Lion Research Center
For information on bears, visit:
- Ursus International Conservation Institute
- National Geographic's BearCam
For information on elephants, visit:
- Save the Elephants
- African Elephant Conservation Trust