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These animals often live in filthy and dilapidated enclosures, Stabled or are Chained in one position for the majority of the day or after their services are over for that day. Animals have no chance to move, let alone express their full range of natural behaviors or to socialize with other members of their species. Circus animals and zoo animals are also not socialized just worked many hours.

Zoo owner whose tiger featured in Life Of Pi charged with animal cruelty after he was filmed whipping the animal

  • Michael Hackenberger was caught on video savagely beating a tiger 
  • World-renowned trainer supplied animals for top Hollywood movies    
  • Hackenberger described using a whip on tigers and a stick on wolves
  • He has resigned as owner of the Bowmanville Zoological Park in Ontario
  • Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has filed charges 

Michael Hackenberger, the owner of Bowmanville Zoological Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, has been charged with five counts of animal cruelty 

The world-renowned animal trainer who was filmed by undercover animal activists savagely beating a tiger has now been charged with animal cruelty. In December PETA released a video purporting to show Michael Hackenberger, the owner of Bowmanville Zoological Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, inflicting cruel blows on a tiger while boasting of his training methods. Hackenberger resigned from his post at the zoo this week and now faces five charges of animal cruelty. One of the allegations against the trainer is causing 'the animal distress by pushing his thumb into the animal's eye'.

Michael Hackenberger, the owner of Bowmanville Zoological Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, has been charged with five counts of animal cruelty 

Hackenberger was caught on undercover video by PETA detailing the violent methods he uses to discipline his animals 

Hackenberger was caught on undercover video by PETA detailing the violent methods he uses to discipline his animals 

Hackenberger supplied the tiger for the hit 2012 film Life of Pi, and also trained animals for the James Franco movie, The Interview. In the shocking footage posted online last month, Hackenberger could be heard saying: 'I like hitting [the tiger] in the face. And the paws … being on the rock, when you hit him, it's like a vice. 'It stings more.'
By Amie Gordon For Mailonline |

India: Horrific images show monkey being punished for theft as crowds gather to cheer Often seen as a nuisance, this wild macaque was tied up and then caged for targeting women in the city

A monkey is kept tied after being caught at Mumbai's Pratiksha Nagar. This mischievous monkey was infamous for targeting only women in Pratiksha Nagar. After numerous women fell prey to its antics, the forest department set up a trap for it. However, the creature proved to be particularly difficult after its capture and so the officials were forced to tie up its hands. The monkey will now be ferried safely to Pune, far away from the women in the city, where it will released.

Tied at the wrists and bent double, this tiny monkey was pictured being punished for THEFT. And as the poor wild macaque was being tormented, a massive crowd drew to cheer at his misfortune. The scene, which unfolded in Pratiksha Nagar in Mumbai, India, has shown a dark side to the city's treatment of animals . The macaque, who regularly targets women and has apparently been making himself a nuisance, was captured by officials but when it refused to sit at peace, they tied it's hands and elbows with strips of fabric. A rope was tied around the animal's neck, reports AFP, and it was put into a cage.

Although monkeys are often revered in Hindu-majority India, they can become a disturbance for people, wrecking gardens, offices and rooftops. They have even been known to launch attacks on humans who have food. This little one was collared when locals called a monkey catcher who trapped it with fruit, and will now be transferred safely far away from the city. He reportedly bared his teeth and hissed at someone who patted him on the head. "We will make sure it's fit and when it is we will release him on the outskirts of Thane," an official in the Maharashtra state forest department told AFP.


Read about the Oregon Zoo’s Forgotten Elephants that have died...Help Stop Captive Breeding at the Oregon Zoo

You can see for yourself how many have died you don't know about.


DEW Haven breeds their animals, takes the babies from their mothers, and exploits them for profit.The conditions at DEW are horrible: rotting carcasses, inadequate fencing, and dismal cages. There have been numerous complaints filed as a result. Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is required to oversee the wildlife at DEW and has failed in their duties to protect these animals.

For instance, in 2014 people paid $50 to feed weeks old tiger cubs, a clear violation of their exhibit permit and they were simply told to stop! However, DEW still lets people come personally to their house and pet cubs, as proven by people's personal photos shared every day.

Bob and Julie Miner owners of DEW, take infant exotic animals and carry them around town and into public establishments, which is clearly against the law. In 2002 animals were seized and egregious conditions were photographed and documented by a whistleblower, an example in the photo with this petition. Despite these offenses DEW remained operational. If Maine IF&W had done their job, DEW would have ceased to operate and many animals would have been saved from suffering and abuse. 

Now DEW Haven is the location for a contrived reality show called Yankee Jungle which airs on Animal Planet produced by Lone Wolf Media. They have hired actors, staged scenes, and glorify the breeding, stealing, and selling of baby animals.

Real horror's these Kangaroo's face each day

The above frame comes from a video of a kangaroo, discreetly filmed in a training session at the Moscow State Circus, dressed in boxing gloves.  It is being whipped aggressively and over again by one of it's trainer whilst the other held it still.       

If this appals you as much as is it does me please read on.   

The mistreatment of animals in the circuses of Moscow is an issue that has long been reported, dismissed as some immutable part of Russia's cultural heritage.  We can tolerate this grotesque cruelty no longer.  

I ask you to take two seconds out of your day to read my account of the appalling things I and others have seen below and sign this petition to bring about a full investigation into the animal cruelty that goes on at the circuses - both on and off the stage.   My aim is to reach 20 thousand signatures before presenting it to Russia's Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinsky.

Thank you in advance for your support and please remember to sign/share/tweet @medinskiy_vr to add pressure so we can bring an end to this moral atrocity.    


'At a performance in March 2015, myself and a group of friends were shocked to see animals being frequently whipped in front of the audience throughout the show (begging us to wonder with horror as to the extent of cruelty off stage); indeed, in one particularly harrowing act, a group of a dozen or so clearly highly sedated Lions and Tigers - visibly trying to escape the stage - were beaten to the point where they excreted on each other.   A Zebra was also beaten particularly aggressively, despite the fact that it was doing exactly as it was told, and a number of porcupines were poked violently in their cages with the sole purpose of distressing them (that way their spikes are most visible).  The people who beat the animals did so with a inhuman gusto and seemed unperturbed by the animal's blatant discomfort and pain.'



Shut Down Tiger Safari in Oklahoma For Animal Abuse!!

Humane Society, a national animal protection group, went undercover in order to investigate the Tiger Safari in Oklahoma, along with another in Virginia that will be covered under a separate petition. Both roadside zoos presented strong evidence of animal abuse and cruelty through video distress. Some of the allegations that were proven to be true and horrific includes:

• Cruelty to tiger cubs through exploitation in order to photograph them, over breeding of tigers, out of control trading of cubs for public interaction, dumping the cubs when they were no longer profitable
• Infant tigers are forcibly and immediately taken from their mothers after birth and used for photo shoots, petting, being fed and played with by the public for a fee; fees ranging from $50 to $1,000 per session
• Obvious distress and handling of the baby tigers by handlers and employees. Owners could be heard telling their employees not to "tell the USDA a f.... thing."
• Baby tigers show signs of being overheated, tired, hungry and even sick; yet they are required to sit still while the public parades by for a fee. It's all about money and no regard for the animals.
• Horrific and free breeding of big cats for the exploitation of their young
• Discarding the young when too large and no longer profitable
• Starving or inappropriately feeding these young cubs with the belief that it would make the baby more tractable during photo sessions. The veterinarian at this zoo had concerns of the infant's leg bones due to a lack of proper nourishment

Read more on these road side zoos at - http://affectmagazine.com/2015/02/baby-tigers-abused-the-dark-secret-of-roadside-zoos/
President and CEO of the Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle states that “Our investigations revealed never-before seen abuse, neglect, and the over breeding that goes on behind the scenes at these tiger cub handling operations. We must put an end to this dangerous and cruel business

I don't want this animal forgotten..

This is Tyke.

Just before a circus performance in 1994, at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, Tyke (the African elephant in the photo above) killed a trainer, seriously injured a groomer, and fled the arena, running through the streets of Honolulu for more than 30 minutes. She then collapsed in the street, dead after being shot with 86 bullets!

Twenty years after this horrific event, the Neal S. Blaisdell Center is planning to allow a circus with wild-animal acts to return to the venue this October!


Stay brave,

Good News... Horseless eCarriage

Horseless eCarriage

For a lot more than a century, horse-drawn carriages have been iconic fixtures in New York City. But the Huge Apple’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has been on a crusade to put an end to the nostalgic rides, saying the carriages are cruel to the horses and a frequent source of site visitors congestion. Amid this simmering controversy, a attainable substitute for the horses emerged Thursday at the New York Auto Show. That is when Jason Wenig, an automotive restoration specialist and Brooklyn native, unveiled the Horseless eCarriage, a battery-powered creation that took 6 many years to plan and construct.

Dane County in WI. Bans Elephants in Circuses!

Alliance for Animals is thrilled to announce that on Thursday June 7, 2012, Dane County became the first Wisconsin community to ban the exhibition of elephants for amusement or entertainment. The County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance amendment banning such exhibitions by a vote of 23 to 9. ( See how they voted here .).

Thanks to the county board, Alliance for Animals, especially Julie Grosso , coordinator of Elephant Free Dane , a project of AFA, and numerous AFA members and supporters , no new elephant acts shall be allowed at the county's auditorium or exhibition center. Current county contracts with the Zor Shriners, who bring the George Carden circus to Madison every year, however, shall be honored until the final contract runs out in 2020.

Opposition for the ban, which came largely from circus supporters outside of Wisconsin, were greatly overshadowed by local public support. The passage of this ban marks the end of an era which included many years of AFA-organized public protests, educational leafleting, USDA complaints, and vigilant monitoring of elephants at the county's Alliant Energy Center when the circus came to town. The legislative effort was initiated in February of 2011 when AFA representatives presented the case for an elephant ban to the general membership of Progressive Dane and received a unanimous vote in favor of an immediate ban on elephant performances.

"This is a step in the right direction - the direction of ending cruelty against elephants at Dane County facilities," said Supervisor Al Matano, who introduced the ban.

He also stated that the work does not end today. "Members of the Dane County Board have pledged to monitor compliance with the contracts, by attending the circuses to observe the conditions the elephants experience." AFA thanks everyone who took the time to come out and speak for the elephants and to all 23 Supervisors who voted in favor of the elephant ban. Eloquent oral testimony came from citizens of Dane County, members of the County Board, and members of Alliance for Animals.

We especially wish to thank Supervisor Al Matano for his courage in introducing the ban and for his steady efforts to see it passed. Many people worked toward this landmark change in county policy; we thank them all. The animals are fortunate to have them working on their behalf.

To read more:http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/167654/0ed3574b2f/1473540721/f983ab2a46/


$150,000 Fine for Cole Bros. Circus and Freedom for Tina and Jewel

What an expensive web we weave when we exploit animals out of greed. A U.S. District Court in Beaumont, Texas, slapped Cole Bros. Circus with a $150,000 fine and four years of probation for illegally selling two endangered Asian elephants, a violation of the Endangered Species Act.

The court also handed Cole Bros. owner John Pugh 300 hours of community service, three years of probation, a $4,000 fine, and a mandatory $1,200 payment to an organization working toward conservation and rehabilitation of Asian elephants. Former Cole Bros. employee Wilbur Davenport, who bought elephants Tina and Jewel from the circus, received 300 hours of community service, three years of probation, and a $5,200 fine.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confiscated Jewel from Davenport, and he then surrendered Tina, allowing the USDA to transport both elephants to the San Diego Zoo. While life in a zoo isn't ideal for Tina and Jewel, it is far better than traveling in a circus and being forced to perform. It is also substantially better than the life that Davenport had planned for the pair—giving elephant rides and making party appearances.

PETA has been following Cole Bros.' pervasive abuse of animals for years. We could only be happier about the punishment if Pugh and Davenport were also sentenced to years of giving piggyback rides at birthday parties to screaming children dropping slushies into their hair.

To read more: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/150-000-fine-for-cole-bros-circus

Sunder the Elephant VIOLENTLY Beaten

Sunder, a 14-year-old Indian elephant, is supposed to be living in a sanctuary. Instead, he is being chained and beaten.

Undercover video footage just released by PETA India reveals a malnourished looking Sunder chained by two legs, writhing in pain and struggling to stand as a mahout (handler) strikes him repeatedly with a wooden pole. Sunder visibly recoils in fear. 

For six years, Sunder was chained and abused at the Jyotiba temple in Kolhapur, India, but the Maharashtra Forest Department and Project Elephant gave orders to retire Sunder to a sanctuary. Instead, Maharashtra Member of Legislative Assembly Vinay Kore, who had given the elephant as a "gift" to the temple, sent him to be chained in an old, dark shed.

Use the form below to urge authorities to transfer Sunder to a sanctuary.

To help: https://secure.peta.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=5188&utm_campaign=%200214%20Sunder%20the%20Elephant%20VIOLENTLY%20Beaten%20Post&utm_source=peta2%20Facebook&utm_medium=Promo

Animal Cruelty

Entertainment Animals

Dog Races

     Up to 50 000 greyhounds are killed a year or sent to experimentation when they are no longer profitable for the racing industry! Many greyhounds are starved just like the one in the picture to the left.



Bull Fights

     More that 40 000 bulls are killed every year in bloody bullfights around the world for entertainment. The animals are tortured over the course of an hour and speared in their backs before finally dying from blood loss and/or exhaustion just like the bull in the picture to the left.

Marine Parks

     Killer Whales and dolphins live only 25% of their natural life expectancy when captive. Normally they swim dozens of miles in the wild and suffer stress-induced disease and ailments when kept in small pools and forced to preform tricks. 

Bear Dancing

     There are many methods of getting bears to dance. The most common way to teach bears to dance is to make the bear stand on a hot plate while being pulled onto their back legs but their noses while music is played. The hot plate makes the bear jump(dance) and eventually when they hear the music they think of the hot plate and start to dance. Some trainers even remove the bear's teeth. In India there is a flier that was made advertising bear dancing here is what it said:

The leaflet is entitled "Oh, look! A performing bear! Let me watch" and is aimed at tourists who might watch dancing bears.

The leaflet continues: "Are you one of the tourists who find themselves attracted to the spectacle of performing bears on the streets of India? Who patronize the bears' keepers (madaris) by paying them for the show they put up for you? Perhaps you don't know the reality behind the show. Come: let us take you backstage...

So that you may be entertained in your trip of India for a few moments by a dancing bear, the following is made to happen.

  • The capture of baby bears in cold regions
  • The painful drilling of a hole in the skin between their eyes and the snout
  • The passing of a cord through this hole to emerge lower down through the nostril
  • The extraction of their teeth and nails - the bears only natural body weapons

Please realize that it is solely your patronage and nothing else that supports these cruel methods of control and training of the bears by their Keepers to enable their easy handling.

To read more: http://stampoutanimalcruelty.webs.com/


The Taiwanese government recently confiscated some pretty cute contraband -- two newborn Liger ( Tiger/lion ) cubs. It is illegal in that country but not in the USA. 

Anna Rothschild

(Aug. 17) -- The Taiwanese government recently confiscated some pretty cute contraband -- two newborn liger cubs. The hybrid offspring of a male lion named Simba and female tiger named Beauty were housed together in a private zoo, and now the zookeeper could be fined close to $1,600.

It's illegal to breed rare, protected animals in Taiwan, but zookeeper Huang Kuo-nan maintains that these feline lovers mated on their own.
Liger cubs
"We disagree [with] any kind of breeding program, including hybridization or intensive inbreeding, which aims only to create individuals for human attraction, especially those [that] will not exist in the natural world," Kurtis Jai-Chyi, the director of the Pingtung Rescue Center for Endangered Wild Animals at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology in Taiwan, where the ligers are being held, said in an e-mail to AOL News.

Certain animal hybrids, like the pizzly bear (a cross between a polar bear and a grizzly bear), have been known to occur in nature, but the liger is not one of them. While lions and tigers may historically have been friendly neighbors, today their geographic ranges do not even overlap.

In captivity, lions and tigers will occasionally mate, producing either ligers or tigons (hybrids of female lions and male tigers). But most liger cubs bred in captivity never make it to adulthood -- the two Taiwanese cubs had a third sibling that died soon after birth. The ones that do survive are usually sterile, though not always. While ligers cannot successfully mate with other ligers, they can sometimes mate with lions or tigers, producing li-ligers and ti-ligers. As zoo attractions, ligers certainly have a lot going for them. Not only are they bigger than either of their parents, but they are the largest living cats. The heaviest liger, Hercules, weighs 900 pounds and eats about 100 pounds of meat a day.
There is currently no ban on breeding ligers in the United States, and a few of these beasts live in animal preserves, like The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.) in South Carolina. The institute's director, Bhagavan Antle, said that the liger is anything but a depraved biological aberration. In fact, it inspires awe.

To read more:  http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/why-liger-hybrid-offspring-of-lions-and-tigers-are-so-controversial/19597492

Circus Animal Welfare

The MSPCA is opposed to wild animals in circuses and traveling wild animal acts because of the suffering they cause to the animals and because of the false picture given of the animals displayed. Quincy, Revere, Braintree, Weymouth, Provincetown, and Somerville, MA have all passed ordinances prohibiting circuses within their boundaries.

Why are we concerned about wild animals in circuses?
Few legal protections exist for animals who are displayed in circuses. On the federal level, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided to warm-blooded animals traveling with circuses. However, violations of the AWA are an everyday occurrence in circuses.

Circus elephantAnimals in circuses spend up to  11 months of the year traveling. For thousands of hours, over long distances, they may be chained, transported in vehicles that lack climate control, and forced to stand or lie in their own waste.

Performing animals such as elephants, lions, and tigers endure years of physical and psychological suffering in traveling acts. The tricks that animals are forced to perform - night after night - are frightening, unnatural, and even painful. Standard circus industry practice is to use bullhooks and other objects to poke, prod, strike, shock, and hit animals in order to "train" them — all for a few moments of human amusement.

The inherent cruelty of traveling almost every week a year, forced separation of herds and babies, being chained while not performing, restrictive caging, and coercive training methods are just a few of the reasons why the MSPCA opposes the use of wild animals in circuses.
Sometimes the animals respond aggressively to this abuse, injuring their handlers, trainers, and even the public.  They occasionally escape from their train cars or their temporary enclosures, risking potentially fatal traffic accidents and injuries to themselves and others.  For a list of circus animal incidents, see Born Free USA United with Animal Protection Institute’s website. There has not yet been a recorded incident in Massachusetts, but there is no reason it couldn’t happen here.  Undoubtedly, the problems that lead to these incidents happen everywhere.  

Circuses using animals often boast that they are working to conserve endangered species in the wild and are educating the public about these animals. There is far more money to be made in breeding endangered animals for public display and performance than in addressing the real issues, such as habitat degradation, that threaten wild populations. Endangered animals born in circus "conservation" programs have never been released into the wild.

How You Can Help
Below are five ways in which you can help stop the suffering of wild animals in circuses.

1) Do not attend circuses that feature wild animals or participate in wild animal "rides". Instead choose animal-free circuses or visit animal sanctuaries.  Find a list here. Learn more about elephant rides.

2) Learn more about animal protection, animal habitats and circuses by visiting the following organizations' websites:   http://www.elephants.com/, http://www.pawsweb.org/http://www.hsus.org/, http://www.bornfreeusa.org/.

3) Spread the word. Educate your relatives, friends, co-workers and local businesses about your research. Encourage them to take a stand against circuses.  Ask your friends to visit this webpage and take action, too!

4) Support legislation to ban the use of the bullhook and chains for elephants who are part of circuses and traveling animal acts in Massachusetts.   Visit our legislation webpage for more information and to take action. 
5) Support Local Bans. You can help stop circuses that feature wild animals from coming to your town by working to pass a local ordinance which restricts wild animal acts. Quincy, Revere, Braintree, Weymouth, Provincetown, and Somerville, Mass. have all passed ordinances prohibiting circuses within their boundaries.  Contact us at advocacy@mspca.org to find out how or download our Local Action Kit.



Animal Abuse

chains.jpgThe harsh treatment of animals in circuses has spawned protests by humane societies and animal rights groups, which have focused on abusive training and handling practices, the constant confinement endured by the animals, and the dangers that animal circuses pose to the public.

Training methods for animals used in circuses involve varying degrees of punishment and deprivation. Animals perform not because they want to but because they’re afraid not to. In the United States, no government agency monitors animal training sessions.

Former Ringling animal crew employees Archele Hundley and Bob Tom contacted PETA independently after witnessing what they described as routine animal abuse in the circus, including a 30-minute beating of an elephant in Tulsa, Okla., that left the animal screaming and bleeding profusely from her wounds. Hundley and Tom reported that elephants are chained whenever they are out of public view and are forced to perform while sick or injured. They also reported that horses are grabbed by the throat, stabbed with pitchforks, punched in the face, given painful “lip twists,” and whipped. Other Ringling whistleblowers have confirmed these abuses.

PETA obtained undercover video footage of the Carson & Barnes Circus that shows elephant trainer Tim Frisco beating elephants with a sharp metal training device called a “bullhook” during a training session. The animals cry out in pain. Frisco tells other trainers, “Hurt ’em. Make ’em scream.” Frisco also warns other trainers to avoid beating the elephants in public view. Undercover video footage of animal training at various other facilities has revealed the widespread use of abusive techniques, including beating elephants with bullhooks and shocking them wit

h electric prods, striking big cats with whips and sticks and dragging them by heavy chains tied around their necks, smacking and prodding bears with long poles, and kicking chimpanzees and beating them with riding crops.

Animals used in circuses may travel thousands of miles a year during extreme weather conditions. They are confined to boxcars and trailers and have no access to basic necessities, such as food, water, and veterinary care. Some elephants spend most of their lives in shackles. One study of traveling circuses reported on an elephant who was forced to spend up to 96 percent of her time in chains. Tigers and lions usually live and travel in cages that are four feet high, seven feet long, and seven feet wide, with two big cats crammed into a single cage. Big cats, bears, and primates are forced to eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and urinate in the same cramped cages.

Constant travel, forced inactivity, and long hours standing on hard surfaces in their own waste lead to serious health problems and early death in captive elephants. At least 25 elephants with Ringling have died since 1992, including four babies. Circuses routinely tear unweaned baby elephants from their mothers to be trained and sent on the road.

Escapes and Attacks
lineup.jpgThere have been hundreds of incidents involving animal attacks and escapes from animal circuses, often resulting in property damage, injuries, and death for both humans and animals.

Perhaps the most dramatic animal attack involved Tyke, an elephant traveling with Circus International in Honolulu in 1994. In an hour-long episode, Tyke killed her trainer and caused injuries to more than a dozen people. Police fired 87 bullets into Tyke before finally killing her. This was not the first time that Tyke had acted out; she had previously caused $10,000 in damage during a Shrine Circus performance in Altoona, Pa., and attacked a trainer in North Dakota, breaking two of his ribs.

Other attacks by elephants, big cats, primates, and bears are common but haven’t received as much media attention because they are rarely videotaped. Many circuses, including Ringling, do not allow video cameras in the arena. In order to avoid publicity, circuses are often quick to settle lawsuits that allege injuries.

Circus Bans
More than a dozen municipalities in the United States have banned performances that feature wild animals. Costa Rica, Sweden, Singapore, Finland, India, and Austria ban or restrict wild animal performances nationwide. Districts in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, and Greece ban some or all animal acts. PETA has been campaigning in the United States for specific bans on the most abusive circus practices, including chaining elephants and using training tools that cause pain and suffering, such as bullhooks and electric prods.



Should animals be banned from the circus?

What would you rather see at the circus - a clown putting his head in a tiger's mouth or someone lifting weights with their nipples? Bizarre human performers seem to be replacing the use of animals in big top shows. Non-animal acts like the Circus of Horrors and the world famous Montreal-based troupe Cirque de Soleil both draw in big audiences. Some might say this is hardly surprising after this week's conviction of leading circus trainer Mary Chipperfield, 61, for animal cruelty.

She was convicted of 12 counts of causing unnecessary suffering to an 18-month-old chimp called Trudy, who was repeatedly beaten with a riding crop. Now she is applying to have the chimp returned to her training centre.

Do you think the use of performing animals is tasteless?

Animal rights campaigners are highly critical of the lack of circus regulation, including the Chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on animal welfare, Ian Cawsey.

"It has got to the stage when it doesn't matter what the law is, you are never going to satisfactorily look after exotic and wild animals in the circus and really the whole practice should be ended," he said.

However Gerry Cottle, of the Circus of Horrors, thinks there are people who still believe animals are an integral part of the circus.

"Even with our radical circus we still get people saying it is not the same and asking where the elephants are," he said.

What do you think?

Should animals be banned from the circus?



Pictured: Harrowing ordeal of the baby elephants bound and beaten to become circus stars.

By Paul Harris

Pulled to the ground by a web of ropes, a baby elephant learns the hard way how to become a circus performer.In case the youngster doesn't want to co-operate, a trainer stands by with one of the sharp metal hooks used to manage the animals. The disturbing picture is one of a series taken by a former trainer which campaigners say reveal the brutal reality of how elephants are prepared for circus work.

A baby elephant learns to lie down

Trussed: Bound by its neck, legs and trunk and watched by a man with a hook, a baby elephant learns to lie down

A trainer manages the elephant with a sharp metal hook

Down: A trainer manages the animal with a sharp metal hook

The pictures show them being dragged to the ground by ropes, chained side by side, pinned down by a hook in the back of the neck and checked by cattleprods.  Peta - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - say the elephants are also separated from their mothers by force.

A group of men and women gather around the baby elephant as it's 
held with ropes

Teamwork? A group of handlers hold the baby elephant with ropes

Elephants mishandled in Ringling centre in Florida

'Torture': Peta - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - says the methods are widespread

The photographs are being used to spearhead a campaign to tighten up laws on the use of wild beasts in circuses.  The Government here is considering legislation to impose stricter conditions on their care, training and performance, particularly where young are concerned.

Campaign: The photos are being used to spearhead an effort to 
tighten laws over the use of wild beasts in circuses

Campaign: The photos are being used to spearhead an effort to tighten laws over the use of wild beasts in circuses

An elephant is badly treated

Revealed: A handler who died last month asked Peta to use the images to ease his conscience after he'd gone

The pictures were taken in the U.S. by handler Sammy Haddock, who worked for the Ringling Bros' Barnum and Bailey Circus until 2005.  They were taken more than seven years ago - but Peta says such methods are widespread, and 'effectively amount to the torture of defenceless animals'.

Baby elephants are bound in a barn

Stark: Baby elephants are bound in a barn

The anchor elephant is trained in a barn

Two against one: The anchor elephant is trained in a barn

Haddock died last month and asked Peta to use his pictures to ease his conscience about the kind of treatment he administered during eight years at the Ringling centre in Florida. Peta director Poorva Joshipura said: 'All the evidence suggests that the methods described by Sam Haddock are standard operating procedures.'

Elephant training
Training elephants

Dedicated areas: The lying down outdoor training area (l) and sitting up area (r)

Ringling's dismisses Peta's claims as 'from the last century' and denies cruelty. It says it separates calves from adults only when they are old enough to demonstrate natural independence.

The outdoor training area where elephants learn to stand on their 

Unnatural: The outdoor training area where elephants learn to stand on their head

A baby elephant is trained to sit on a tub

Grimace: A baby elephant is trained to sit on a tub



Attendees of the infamous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus got more than they bargained for during an afternoon performance on October 26, at Cleveland's Gund Arena. Mercy For Animals member Mandie Jones of Cleveland stunned an unexpecting audience of thousands when she stormed the center ring of the World's largest circus with a banner reading "Ringling Tortures Animals" to protest the circus's long history of animal abuse. Security quickly grabbed Jones and arrested her on charges of criminal trespassing. The disruption grabbed newspaper headlines and focused the spotlight of Cleveland's media on the abuse of animals under the big top.

Although the Ringling Bros. public relations department has been working overtime to deceive the public into believing that animals imprisoned in the circus are "treated like family," no amount of false propaganda can sanitize the circus’s horrific record of animal neglect. Ringling Bros. Circus has failed to meet minimal federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition as established in the Animal Welfare Act. Ringling paid $20,000 to settle U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) charges of failing to provide veterinary care to a dying baby elephant. The USDA has also cited Ringling for failure to possess records of veterinary care, failure to provide animals with sufficient space, failure to provide animals with exercise, and endangering tigers who were nearly baked alive in a boxcar because of poor maintenance of their enclosures. In less than two years, two baby elephants died, a caged tiger was shot to death, a horse who was used despite a chronic medical condition died during Ringling’s traditional animal march, and a wild-caught sea lion was found dead in her transport container. Click here to view Ringling’s long history of animal abuse.

In contrast to the glitter associated with circuses, performing animals' lives are pretty miserable. Because animals do not naturally ride bicycles, stand on their heads, or jump through rings of fire, whips, electric prods, and other tools are often used to force them to perform.

Tigers and lions, who would naturally secure a territory of 75 to 2,000 square miles, are usually forced to live and travel in cages only 4 feet by 6 feet by 5 feet. Early in their training, according to Henry Ringling North in his book The Circus Kings, the big cats are "chained to their pedestals, and ropes are put around their necks to choke them down. They work from fear." Bears may have their noses broken while being trained or have their paws burned to force them to stand on their hind legs.

Elephants, who in their natural environment would live in socially complex family herd, are chained by one or both front and hind legs during training sessions, transport, and often between shows. Trainers beat elephants with razor sharp bullhooks to force the animals to perform dangerous and confusing acts. Inadequate exercise and prolonged standing in wet, unsanitary conditions may lead to foot problems such as foot rot, and infected cuticles.

In sworn testimony, Tom Rider, a former Ringling Bros. elephant barn-keeper, stated:

“After my three years working with elephants in the circus, I can tell you that they live in confinement and they are beaten all the time when they don't perform properly.”

Other former Ringling Bros. employees have also spoken out against animal cruelty that occurred behind the scenes. Former Ringling performer Kelly Tansy has this to say:

“On my very first day with the circus, I witnessed animal cruelty. I saw an elephant being beaten in what appeared to be a disciplinary action. The beating was so severe that the elephant screamed. I have come to realize, through all the circuses that I have worked for, that mistreatment of animals is a standard part of training and is thought to be a ‘necessary’ part of exhibiting them.

I have seen chimps locked in small cages constantly when not performing; elephants chained continuously; and even animals being beaten during performances. You won't find these quotes in circus programs anymore, but one well-known elephant trainer stated in the 1978 Ringling program that, according to his father, ‘An elephant trainer must have a strong back, a weak mind, and a savage disposition.’"

Click picture to see video :

What you can do

Boycott circuses that enslave animals. The exploitation and abuse of animals held captive in the circus will end only when compassionate individuals stop supporting them. Families seeking circus entertainment can still enjoy the many sights and sounds without supporting animal cruelty. The number of wonderful circuses that use only willing, paid human performers, such as Cirque du Soleil, Circus Oz, the New Pickle Circus, and Cirque d'Hiver are growing in both size and popularity. Click here for a complete list of animal-free circuses.


Bear attack at Russian circus

A tragic incident took place at the circus of the city of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. A bear attacked two people during rehearsals. The animal killed one person and mauled another one. The bear was shot dead. The bear attacked the animal trainer and the administration of the Russian ice circus, which was on tour in Kyrgyzstan. The performance was titled "Bears on Ice," Pravda.Ru reports.


"The reason for the animal's aggression is not known. The director of the circus asked the police to shoot the animal dead afterwards," a source at local law-enforcement authorities said. It is worthy of note that bears, unlike feline predators, never show any signs of their intention to attack. The administrator of the circus troupe, a 25-year-old man identified as Dmitry Potapov, died of severe injuries. The animal trainer, Yevgeny Popov, 29, was hospitalized in severe condition.



Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, is suffering from a deadly herpes virus that Ringling may have been able to prevent.

Tell Everyone: Ringling Beats Animals!



Not A Good Message

Many of the animals used in this type of entertainment are facing extinction in the wild. What kind of message are we delivering to our youth if we continue to cage wild animals and force them to perform tricks for our amusement?

If you love the idea of the circus, there are always animal-free options, where performers actually get to choose their work. Teach your children to respect animals, and enlist their support for boycotting circuses that have animal acts – do it for the animals.

If all of that doesn’t convince you, perhaps these 12 reasons will…

1. Lions

Circus Lion

Image credit Big Cat Rescue
2. Zebras

Circus Zebra

Image credit German rios
3. Tigers

Circus Tiger

Image credit Hyaground
4. Giraffes

Circus Giraffe

Image credit Leonid Mamchenkov

5. Horses

Circus Horse

Image credit The Boston Globe
6. Jaguars

Circus Jaguar

Image credit brianwallace
7. Monkeys

Circus Monkeys

Image credit bepatou
8. Camels

Circus Camel

Image credit Andreas Solberg
9. Ponies

Circus Ponies

Image credit Thomas Hawk
10. Elephants

Circus Elephant

Image credit Andreas Solberg
11. Bears

Circus Bear

Image credit The Sun
12. Donkeys

Circus Donkey

Image credit Thomas Hawk

Really, Do You Need Any More Reasons?

For more information about the abuse circus animals suffer at the hands of their captors, please visit Circuses.com.



Humanity’s acceptance of Performing Elephants

Mike Jaynes

The University of Tennesee at Chattanooga

            People usually have fond memories of the circus, and that's the problem anti animal circus activists face. It is difficult to convince an adult to abandon an activity that has long been considered a worthy and positive family tradition. It is this positive aspect of the tradition that should be called into question. And in enters the old enemy, ignorance. Plenty of forms of suffering have pleasing facades, and it is education that will lead us to the truth. The ethical disconnect between the spangled elephant performer and the chained and miserable off stage elephant existence exists simply due to ignorance. I attended circuses before I knew the specifics of them as well. In fact, my life long love of elephants stems from an elephant ride I took as a young boy of 6 or 7 at a small circus in my hometown. Indeed most Americans' exposure to elephants solely occurs in zoos or circuses. Now it is time we considered these great creatures and asked about the specifics of their lives we do not see, the times spent not in the spangles and the rings and the lights but in the chains, tiny enclosures, and unendurable isolation. Another quick note: this is intended to be a very brief introduction to the plight of performing elephants. For more details, please seek out places such as PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society), Circuses.com, or Elephants.com.

            To understand why circuses are such a negative experience for elephants, one must know a few things about their habits in the wild and their conditions in the ring.  Elephants often weigh upwards of 11,000 pounds and they do not naturally stand on two feet or balance on small platforms in the wild, contrary to what information circulated by circus suggest. Circuses ensure potential circus goers that they tricks the elephants perform are based around natural behaviors observed in the wild. Rest assured, elephants did not evolve to support their massive weight on their front two legs. This is abuse and in fact leg and foot problems are a leading cause of death for elephants who spend long hours standing on cold concrete, often in their own excrement, or support their weight on two legs at a time. One can look to the tragic story of Stoney the elephant, who performed in the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas under the horrendous care of his abusive and now deceased trainer Mike La Torres, to see what happens to elephants forced to repeatedly stand on two legs. If people were aware of these terrible abuses to which circus elephants are submitted, inherent human ethics of compassion would affect many humans and the demand for circuses would wane. Applying economic pressure seems to be the only sanction America understands. Education could one day create a social sanction, and that is surely slowly occouring, but for now removing monies from the animal circus owners is the best way to help these elephants and to break the ethical disconnect caused by ignorance of these great beasts’ plight.

            Much has been written about the training of circus elephants. In order to get them to do such "tricks" for our amusement often trainers will burn their front feet with blowtorches or inflict other terrible amounts of pain as persuasion. When you see elephants performing, it is not because they love to do it or that the tricks are exaggerated extensions of natural behaviors. They perform these tricks because they are in fear and know they will be punished if they do not perform. Undercover video has been taken, and you can view one such trainer and his horrendously painful techniques on Circuses.com in order to not solely rely on my, admittedly, very passionate word.

            Elephants have skin as sensitive as humans -we know they can sense when a fly lands on their back -but the cruel training practices are not the most disturbing aspect of captive performing elephant life, according to some. In the wild, elephants will often walk 30-50 miles a day for no apparent reason other than the walking. They like to walk, and we do not have the right to deprive them of their walking. Elephant researchers have ascertained they often are not motivated by food searching or mating instincts; they simply seem to love to walk. When not performing, most Elephants are kept chained in a space no bigger than an automobile or enclosed in special pens lined with electric fences that are millions of times smaller than their natural behavior. When chained in such a tiny enclosure, elephants often display stereotypic behavior, such as swaying from foot to foot and trunk waving. Researchers feel these stereotypies are brought on by extreme boredom, isolation, and they often display behaviors often witnessed in mentally ill humans. Even if this is conjecture by concerned Animal Rights Activists (ARAs) such as myself (which is not the case), it is a fact that these behaviors have never been observed in the wild. 

            During touring season (nine months a year) Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth has been reported to keep its elephants chained for up to 20 hours a day. And it's not just Ringling, and it's not just circuses. Zoos, unfortunately for those of us who would truly love to see and visit elephants, are often just as bad. This article focuses on circuses, but keep in mind that elephants are only suited to live on expansive, thousand acre sanctuaries or in the wild. It is true elephants face human dangers in the wild; however, to keep these great beasts in captivity it to create an inhumane crime.

            Children are understandably amused by the elephants, and they love to see them do their tricks. However, adults need to realize the complex needs of these creatures are -at best- not fully understood by us. Perhaps it is simply me, but it seems but everyone has fun at the circus except elephants and other performing animals.  My question is simple: how does sitting on a chair and wearing spangled headdresses in any way appreciate the natural needs of these animals? And my other question -which tends to be more controversial for some reason- is why do we think we have the right to force these animals into these situations? Circuses tell us that they are utilizing practical methods of elephant conservation and they have their animals' best interests at heart. If that were so, why are they not constantly given treats and positive reinforcement during shows, as some have asked? Whipping and questionable (at very best) training practices do not seem to have their best interests in mind. Forget treats, if someone truly loved elephants, why would they not want them in places such as some of the American elephant sanctuaries that exist in which they can live in the manner in which they evolved? The fact is that the circus is an old tradition that exists in order to turn the exotic and rare experience of seeing an elephant into money for the circus owners.

            Circuses abuse elephants even if not pain management techniques are involved. The mere constraint of these animals is suffering. And the horrible thing is they bear their slavery in silence. They walk slowly, never trumpeting in joy. They slowly trudge from their chained enclosures where they are bedecked with jewels and spangles and then led to the performance area. This is all we see. What we don’t see is these elephants alone, chained, swaying from foot to foot, and slowly going mad. And for what, an astute, intelligent, and kind person may ask. All so we can pay these circuses money, see a show, and be entertained for a few hours. The obviousness of the anti circus argument seems logically beyond reproach. When viewing elephants in circuses and captive situations, the looks on their faces seem to be all the argumentative ethos an educated and compassionate person would need in order to not only stop attending animal circuses, but to actively support elephant sanctuaries and educate the public who is not evil, simply unaware.



Animal Welfare - Animal Protection - Animal Rights


Elephants in a Circus

Animals in the Circus: A Lifetime of Misery

 Using animals in circuses is an unnecessary and inhumane practice that's harmful to both the animals and the public. Unlike the human performers who choose to work in circuses, exotic animals are forced to take part in the show. They are involuntary actors in a degrading, unnatural spectacle.
While many people associate the circus with "safe, wholesome, family fun" — an association promoted aggressively by the circus PR machine — the truth is much darker. Government inspection reports reveal ongoing mistreatment of animals in circuses, as well as failures to provide the basic minimal standards of care required by law. Animals used in circuses have been injured and killed, and have injured and killed humans.
Circuses that exploit animals make lofty claims about their "educational" value and their contributions to "conservation." But the real message that these circuses send to children is that it's acceptable to abuse animals for amusement and profit.

And the conservation claims made by many circuses are merely veiled attempts to justify the exploitation of animals for commercial gain. Endangered animals born in circus "conservation" programs have never been released into the wild — they are doomed, instead, to life in captivity.
Born Free USA united with API's circus campaign aims to end the exploitation of "performing" animals by educating both the public and key decision-makers about how animals suffer under the big top, and by pushing for legislation and policy changes that help stop circus cruelty. We are also involved in groundbreaking litigation against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for its mistreatment of elephants.

Get The Facts

Source:  Animal Protection Institute and Born Free USA 


Please Help Alert Venues to This Abusive Animal Act

Baboon Lagoon is a ridiculous traveling act featuring six female hamadryas baboons. Reduced to clowns, these intelligent primates with a documented capacity for abstract thought are dressed in frilly tutus and forced to entertain gawking audiences with foolish antics. Baboon Lagoon regularly makes the rounds of state and county fairs as well as other venues around the world, not only causing tremendous animal suffering, but also desensitizing audiences, including impressionable children, to the cruelty inherent in captive animal acts.

Run by Lee and Judy Stevens, a husband-and-wife team that bills itself as "featured animal trainers for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus" a circus plagued with violations of the Animal Welfare Act Baboon Lagoon is hell on Earth for these social, curious, and complex animals.

Baboon Lagoon's Act Is All Wet
Baboon Lagoon's program features the animals riding a motorcycle, doing back flips, and climbing a ladder. Waiting for their turn onstage, the animals are chained to chairs, where they are forced to tolerate bright lights, blaring music, and amplified dialog. During a recent performance, one of the baboons was observed repeatedly bobbing her head, another obsessively groomed her wrist, and another simply turned her back to the audience for the entire show, seemingly trying to block out the whole sordid scene. Such neurotic behaviors are typical of animals enduring excruciating stress and boredom from captivity, as well as abusive training methods.

Cruel Training Techniques
Like all primates used in entertainment, baboons do not "perform" unless they are forced to often through intimidation, abuse, and solitary confinement. According to Dr. Robert Sapolsky, a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya, who has spent more than 26 years studying baboons in a national park in East Africa, "Training most baboons to do tricks of the sort displayed is not trivial ... it is highly likely that it required considerable amounts of punishment (physical or otherwise) and intimidation."

There is also evidence that solitary confinement is a method used to ensure that the animals will perform on command: A trainer of circus chimpanzees has admitted that he keeps the animals in solitary confinement for the majority of the time so that they will be more motivated to perform.

Behind the Scenes
With two to three shows each day, the baboons spend the majority of their time up to 22 hours per day caged in semi-darkness. They are kept in traveling cages that measure approximately 2 feet by 3 feet-metal boxes with wire mesh fronts and sawdust scattered on the floor. The cages are built into a travel truck so little, if any, natural light penetrates their enclosures.

On the road for six months out of each year, the baboons are subjected to the stress of intense confinement, loneliness, and insufficient exercise. The Stevens boast that Baboon Lagoon has traveled all over the world, including Japan, Canada, Bermuda, and "all except two states."

Baboons Belong in the Wild
Captivity is a sad state of affairs both for animals stolen from the wild or those born into it.

The lives of these captive baboons are a far cry from those of their wild relatives, who live in large, close-knit communities and travel together for miles each day through forests, savannahs, and hills. Baboons are highly social and caring animals who suffer when deprived of companionship. In the wild, baboons will even stage sit-down protests or hurl rocks at cars when a loved one is killed on the road. The Stevens claim that their baboons were all born in captivity and "came to [them] when they were very, very young." In other words, as babies, they were torn from their mothers' sides probably within days of birth and sold to the Stevens to be trained and exploited as "performers."


In addition to two open USDA investigations into Sterling and Reid, the circus often uses sub-contractors with histories of negligent animal care and serious public safety concerns. Publicized news reports and government inspections reveal:

  • a 400 pound bear falls from a moving truck on a Louisiana interstate on 4/2/00;
  • a tiger escapes and leaves a performance area unattended;
  • dangerous animals are left unattended in public areas;
  • exotic cats forced to live in cages so small the animals are prevented from standing erect;
  • animals fed improper diets leading to chronic malnutrition and subsequent health problems;
  • lack of veterinary care plan;
  • animal handler loses control of animals and handles them abusively;
  • inexperienced and unqualified handlers and trainers working with animals;
  • sub-contractor Brian Franzen surrenders 8 emaciated and dehydrated ponies to California law enforcement in 1998 and pleads guilty to two counts of animal abuse/neglect. In 1999, Franzen animals were still being transported on a Sterling and Reid truck;
  • in 1999 Sterling and Reid relinquish exotic cats to the Oakland Zoo and a sanctuary when they learn the USDA has launched a cruelty investigation;
  • Sterling and Reid Circus is charged with fraudulent advertising in Oregon in 1999;
  • in St. Louis at a March 2,000 show, a horse bolts from the ring during a performance, hits a wall and falls down before being led back into the ring to continue performing.


For many, the word “circus” evokes imagery of popcorn, candy, "wild" animals, and fun. However, behind the glitter and the glitz of the circus lies a cruel world of untold animal suffering. Animals used in circuses are unwilling participants in a show that jeopardizes their health and mental well-being and the lives of human spectators and performers.

Trained by pain
Circuses force animals to perform tricks that have nothing to do with how these magnificent creatures behave in the wild. These unnatural acts range from a tiger jumping through a flaming hoop to bears riding bicycles. Animals are sometimes injured while performing: tigers, who naturally fear fire, have been burned jumping through flaming hoops. Training animals to perform acts that are sometimes painful or that they do not understand requires whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods and other tools. Elephants are trained through the use of an ankus—a wooden stick with a sharp, pointed hook at the end to discourage undesired behavior. An elephant handler will never be seen working with an elephant without an ankus in one hand or discreetly tucked under his arm. Although an elephant’s skin is thick, it is very sensitive—sensitive enough to feel a fly on her back. The ankus is embedded into elephants' most sensitive areas, such as around the feet, behind the ears, under the chin, inside the mouth, and other locations around the face. Sometimes it is used to smash them across the face. Circuses claim to use "positive reinforcement" and to base their tricks on behaviors that animals carry out naturally. If this were true, however, the trainers would be carrying bags of food treats, not a metal weapon.

Travel can be torture
Animals in circuses either travel in 18-wheelers or by train. During transport and between performances, tigers, who in the wild would secure 75-2,000 square miles, are kept in cages with barely enough room to turn around. Elephants, who walk up to 25 miles a day with their families in their natural habitat, are shackled in chains by their front and back legs so that they can't take a step forward or backward. They are forced to eat, sleep, and defecate in the same trailers, where they can be kept for stretches of more than 24 hours. Often the animals are not let off the railroad cars immediately upon arrival in their destination, either because of traffic conditions or because the train arrived too early or late. In this instance, the animals are forced to wait inside of the railroad cars for hours—even in extreme temperatures.
Circus schedules are created to maximize attendees, not to accommodate the animals from which they profit. Some of the many U.S. circuses that use animals travel as many as 48 weeks out of the year and cover thousands of miles. Some circuses go to warmer states in the summer, even though the animals may suffer in extreme temperatures. The same unfortunate situation occurs in the winter in colder areas. These factors exacerbate the already stressful conditions caused by confinement and transport.

Life in captivity
Even if conditions were improved and humane methods of training were used, the fact is that keeping wild animals in captivity deprives animals of much of what they value in life. Elephants, tigers, chimpanzees, and other animals used in circuses are complex creatures—not robots to be stacked in boxes and hauled to the next show. Animals have relationships with other members of their species and would naturally live in social groups or families. Baby elephants generally stay with their mothers for fifteen years if they are male and their entire lives if they are female. Yet in circuses, baby elephants are ripped from their mothers' sides as young as one year old because baby elephants are cute and draw a crowd which in turn helps the circus reap profit. Animals value exploring their environment, nurturing their young, courting and mating, and playing with others. However, in captivity, they are prevented from doing all of these things and instead live a life based on human wants and whims.
Lives of constant confinement and frustration of natural instincts force animals into a state of neurosis. Elephants in circuses constantly sway back and forth in their chains, and tigers constantly pace in their cages. These repetitive behaviors are symptoms of deep psychological distress due to being deprived of fulfilling their natural instincts. Animals can resort to self-mutilation from lack of psychological stimulation. These animals belong in their natural environments in the jungles of Africa and Asia—not in American arenas and parking lots.

Contrary to what circuses say and the justification some schools use for taking students to circuses, seeing animals in circuses does not provide a realistic educational tool because the animals are forced to perform tricks and live in conditions that are not natural for them. The animals are in an environment drastically different from their natural habitats, and their spirits are broken from harsh training and from not being able to fulfill some of their most basic needs and instincts.

Public safety: Reason for concern
Animals in circuses are a threat to public safety. When animals are brought into a new town by train, they are often walked from the train to an arena where they will be performing. Wild animals on city streets should give communities reason to be concerned. Cars, pedestrians, and elephants are side by side on busy city streets. Although some animals are accustomed to the heat, they are not used to walking on hot pavement or to not having access to water, trees, or mud holes. Circus trainers will even withhold food and water from animals to reduce untimely excrement. Elephants are harried along, forbidden to drink from puddles or snatch a branch from a tree by a bullhook-wielding trainer. Having these instincts stifled adds to the stress of transport and an unnatural environment, and animals are much more likely to become violent under these conditions.

Elephants in circuses have gone on rampages, injuring and killing spectators and causing property damage. Since 1990, 18 people have been killed and 86 have been injured. In 1994 an elephant named Tyke killed her handler, then went on a rampage in the streets of Honolulu, injuring onlookers and damaging property. Tyke was eventually gunned down by police on a busy street. Other incidents have occurred when elephants are frightened, sometimes by the honking of car horns or other stressors. Tigers have also been known to attack and kill their trainers; others have escaped into terrified communities.

Some elephants used in circuses have been found to carry a human strain of tuberculosis (TB). These animals pose a serious health risk since they are in contact with the public during publicity events and when children receive elephant rides.

Fun circuses
An end to animal circuses doesn't mean an end to fun. There are many circuses that are exciting and entertaining without abusing animals. Cirque du Soleil, The New Pickle Family Circus, Circus Smirkus, Cirque Eloize, Circus Oz and the Mexican National Circus are all wonderful circuses that offer family entertainment using only willing human performers.

By supporting animal-free entertainment and boycotting circuses that use animals, we can move towards an end to the use of animals in circuses.


Ringling vs. Reality

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus paints a picture of happy animals performing tricks because they like doing them. Consider the following, then decide whether that’s true. Here are some of Ringling’s frequent claims juxtaposed with the facts about the circus’s treatment of animals:

Our training methods are based on continual interaction with our animals, touch and words of praise, and food rewards.
Video footage taken between 2001 and 2006 of Ringling trainers and handlers shows that elephants were aggressively hooked, lame elephants were forced to perform and travel, and a trainer inflicted a bloody bullhook wound behind an elephant’s ear flap. Former Ringling employees that left the circus in 2006 and 2007 describe violent beatings as well as the routine abuse of elephants, horses, camels, and zebras.

The ankus (bullhook) is used as an extension of the handler’s arm to guide the elephants.
The bullhook, by design, is intended to cause pain and puncture the skin. Despite its appearance, an elephant’s skin is as sensitive as humans’ skin. The sharp metal hook on the end of the bullhook bruises, punctures, and tears elephants’ skin easily and often. Former Ringling animal crew employees report that the circus keeps a bag of topsoil handy to cover up bloody bullhook wounds on elephants.

Ringling is a leading expert in the care of Asian elephants. Our staff is dedicated to meeting our animals’ physical and behavioral needs.
Ringling’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports are riddled with serious citations of problems that directly impact animal welfare. In 2006 alone, the circus was cited three times for failure to provide adequate veterinary care to a disabled elephant, to an elephant with a large swelling on her rear leg, and to a camel with bloody wounds. Also in 2006, Ringling was cited for causing trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm, and discomfort to two young elephants who sustained cuts and abrasions when they ran amok in an arena in Puerto Rico; improper handling of dangerous animals; and an enclosure in disrepair.

Ringling has never been adjudged to have violated the Animal Welfare Act.
Ringling attempts to confuse the issue with legal terminology. The USDA refers to a citation on an inspection report as a “noncompliance” rather than a “violation.” Each citation by the USDA is an indication that federal inspectors found that Ringling Bros. is failing to comply with the minimum requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.

In addition to being cited on inspection reports, Ringling has also been warned by the USDA for causing trauma and stress to two baby elephants who suffered painful rope lesions when they were prematurely pulled from their mothers and for improper euthanasia after a caged tiger was shot to death. Ringling also paid a $20,000 penalty to settle USDA charges of failing to provide veterinary care to a sick baby elephant who died shortly after he was forced to perform.

All circuses are subject to stringent animal welfare regulations at the local, state, and federal level.
No agency monitors training sessions, in which animals may be beaten behind the scenes. Most state and local agencies defer to the already overburdened USDA for matters concerning exotic animals in circuses. The federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) has no regulations that specifically pertain to elephants. For example, space requirements for animals ranging from elephants to zebras simply state, “Enclosures shall ... provide sufficient space to allow each animal to make normal postural and social adjustments.” Ringling consistently opposes proposed laws that would ban cruel training methods, such as bullhooks and the chaining of elephants. Although inspections by the USDA are supposed to be unannounced, several former Ringling employees claim that the circus always knows in advance when inspectors are coming.

Our staff are experts in their fields.
Staff caring for animals in circuses may have little experience or formal training, increasing the potential for improper handling. Ringling regularly hires inexperienced people, some directly out of homeless shelters, and allows them to work with animals.

Ringling is attempting to save endangered Asian elephants from extinction.
Ringling breeds elephants solely to perform in its circus. None of Ringling’s elephants can ever be released to the wild. Of the approximately 62 elephants owned by Ringling in 1990, 57 were captured in the wild. And at least 24 elephants have died since 1992. Ringling has not been successful in breeding more elephants than it has captured and imported for use in its traveling show, and its elephants are dying at a faster rate than they are breeding. Ringling routinely pulls unweaned elephants from their mothers to train them and put them on the road.

The animal routines in our circus showcase our animals’ natural behaviors.
In nature, elephants don’t stand on their heads, walk trunk-to-tail, skip, crawl, or twirl, and adult female elephants do not mount one another. Tigers don’t hop on their hind legs and roll over in unison. In order to force wild animals to perform difficult and confusing circus tricks, trainers use whips, sticks, and bullhooks.

The public display of exotic and endangered animals contributes to a heightened awareness of humans’ responsibility to safeguard and protect these animals.
According to David Hancocks, former director of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, “When [circuses] portray animals as freaks and curiosities, devoid of context or dignity, circuses are perpetuating outdated attitudes. Wild animals in the circus are reduced to mere caricatures of their kind, exhibited just for financial gain. In this way, they corrupt our children, promoting the notion that exploitation and degradation is acceptable, even brave or funny.”

We operate a 200-acre state-of-the-art facility dedicated to breeding, research, and retirement of Asian elephants.
The elephants at Ringling’s breeding compound in Florida only have access to a fraction of the property. When they are not chained, the elephants are confined to barns and small, barren outdoor paddocks. Ringling’s Williston, Fla., facility—also referred to as its retirement center—has several elephants who are infected with or exposed to a human strain of tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB). In September 2006, two male elephants at its breeding center also tested positive for TB and three female elephants were pulled off the road because they had been exposed to diseased elephants.

Our elephant care practices are in line with those set out in the “Elephant Husbandry Resource Guide” published by the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) with the support of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the Elephant Managers Association (EMA).
As a founding board member of the IEF, Ringling helped develop the “Elephant Husbandry Resource Guide.” Ringling may have felt a need to develop this guide because the circus does not comply with the existing AZA Standards for Elephant Management and Care. Ringling does not provide its elephants on the road with AZA’s minimum space requirements, and the elephants are subjected to prolonged chaining.

Ringling Bros. elephants are healthy, thriving, vigorous, and content.
The USDA has noted on Ringling inspection reports that some of the circus’s elephants suffer from lameness, foot abscesses, and arthritis. At least eight of the 24 elephant deaths at Ringling since 1992 were attributable to either osteoarthritis or a chronic foot problem—a common problem in captive elephants caused by lack of space and forced inactivity. In a book titled The Elephant’s Foot, former Ringling veterinarian Gary West contributed a chapter about foot care. West wrote, “Foot-related conditions and arthritis are the leading cause of euthanasia in captive elephants in the United States.”

You can help stop the suffering of elephants, tigers, and other animals abused in the name of “entertainment.” Click here to support PETA's vital work.



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