Practical Issues > Animals for Entertainment > Circuses

What You Should Know About Circuses and Animals


Let's Really Grow Up and Ban Circuses!

"Don't be a spoil sport! Animals love doing tricks. My dog often does little tricks for me."

When it wants to perhaps. But if you tried to make it do unnatural or difficult tricks twice nightly timed to the split second in front of an audience, it wouldn't work. Why? Because your pet knows you won't hurt it and isn't afraid of you. The performing animal acts through fear of man's domination instilled during the rigorous breaking-in and training period. A famous lion trainer admitted in his memoirs that fear is the key to training animals and that if the animal makes a mistake "energetic and instant correction is indispensable."

"Anyway, the circus is good clean fun -- real family entertainment."

Do you call it fun to degrade animals by dressing them up and making them do stupid tricks? The real animal lover finds animal acts intolerably sad and pathetic--not something to laugh at. And don't forget--the human circus performers choose their jobs. Animals can't choose. Utterly at man's mercy they are forced to be there and forced to perform. Man degrades himself too when he exploits and dominates animals in this way. The circus can still be good entertainment--without the animals.

"Children would miss seeing them."

They see animals to much better advantage in TV programmes and films when they are behaving naturally in their own surroundings. Today enlightened parents and teachers encourage children to appreciate and protect wild animals -- not to think of them as figures of fun to be laughed at. Children learn by example. They won't learn how to treat wild or domestic animals properly by seeing them in the circus ring forced to do tricks to "amuse" an unthinking audience. In today's violent world it is more necessary than ever for children to grow up with civilised standards based on kindness and consideration for others, including animals. Don't let us confuse them by on the one hand emphasising the need for wildlife protection and on the other condoning the abuse of animal life in the circus ring. It is civilised to teach children to care about animals. Let's be consistent!

 

Life Sentence with No Court of Appeal -- except YOU!

"At least circus animals don't have to hunt for their food and are well looked after."

Which would you prefer? Captivity in prison or freedom to live your own life, taking your chance as every living creature must do? There is no law governing the size of the traveling cages in which they are transported and kept. Close confinement in totally unnatural conditions is the fate of circus animals for life. Is that what you call being "well looked after"?

"They say the training is all done by kindness."

It is virtually impossible for any outsider to watch training sessions EXCEPT by prior arrangement when you would see only what the circus people want you to see. If it's "all done by kindness", why the secrecy? There have been enough testimonies of sickening brutality in the treatment of performing animals to indicate that this kind of exploitation must not be tolerated. In addition to physical pain, animals can suffer nervous stress when forced to do things totally against their nature, such as leaping through fire, working with "natural enemies", riding cycles or turning somersaults. Can you really believe that to make a lion or tiger jump through a blazing hoop all that is necessary is to give him a hunk of meat and a friendly pat? Animals are afraid of fire. To get them to do such a trick they must be made more afraid of what the trainer will do to them than of the fire itself.

"If it is so wrong and cruel the authorities would ban it."

Many local authorities DO think it is wrong and cruel and they ban circuses with animals from local authorities land.

"I think you have got a good case but what can I do about it?"

You can do lots of things!

  • Join the growing army of people from all walks of life -- many of them well known personalities -- who are determined to see an end to animal performances.
  • Stay away from circuses and other entertainments with performing animals and don't encourage children to go.
  • Don't watch performing animals on TV, and let the TV people know why.
  • Exercise your rights as a citizen and ask your local authorities NOT to allow circuses with performing animals to use their land.
  • Don't use shops which display posters advertising circuses with performing animals and tell the shop-keeper why.
  • Write to the national and local papers saying that you don't agree with forcing animals to perform.

In the UK, The Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925 permits entry by local authority inspectors and police only at "reasonable" times. In effect, this gives circus proprietors the advantage of advance warning of any inspection and therefore protects the trainer and not the animal, as nothing of an incriminating nature is likely to be seen.
It is time we moved into the 20th century and banned circus and other animal performances.