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Animals in the circus 

Posted april 10, 2022

Many people see animals in circuses performing acrobatic facts and performing unbelievable tricks. While this may be entertaining there is a dark side behind this fun and seemingly harmless show. From big cats, elephants, dogs, and many more. Animals spend about 11 months of the year traveling in a small cages. We will talk about some important things to know about animals in the circus and how you can help combat the unfair treatment of these animals.

Big cats 

Many people are in awe to see big agile felines jump through hoops of fire and roar at the tops of their lungs. Many people don’t know that the bigs cats in these circuses are greatly affected and hurt in these circuses.

These large feline are naturally nocturnal sleeping in the day and hunting at night however in these circuses they are forced to be very active during the day which can hurt the emotional and physical health of these big cats.


 126 big cats have died in captivity since 1990 many of them being tigers. When you see tigers jump through the hoops of fire you might not realize that tigers are actually naturally afraid of fire. This means that when they jump through the hoops of fire they are more scared of the handlers than the flaming hoops. 13 people have died from training cats in the circus since 1990 and 123 people have been attacked since 1990. 



Elephants and circuses is a common paring however elephants are one of the most abused animals in circuses. Since 2000, 36 elephants have escaped circuses and ran through the streets hurting people and destroying things. They do this because of the trauma from the abuse in circuses, however, they are always deemed violent and euthanized. 

 Elephants are social creatures, usually living in groups of between 6 to 12 elephants. In circuses, however, elephants are kept in solitary confinement which is very harmful to their mental health. Baby elephants are isolated from their mother at 18 to 24 months of age so that they can start to train to do the tricks that they do today. They are forced to do uncomfortable tricks such as standing on their head and on a small pedestal. 

Restrictions and backlash 


The Animal Welfare Act is an act that looked to restrict the use of animals in circuses and give them a more humane life.

While the act does put hard restrictions on the treatment of animals it is quite hard to enforce this act and while many circuses have many citations they continue to function and make a large profit.

In 2017 traveling exotic animals and the public safety protection act were put into effect and required that 19 circuses either swap for human performers or go out of business.

Today more than ever people care about stopping the inhumane treatment of animals in circuses and more and more people are learning the true horrors of how animals are treated in circuses. Bolivia has been the first country to ban wild animals from performing in circuses there. They even banned many domestic animals such as dogs and donkeys and are enforcing this law very well. Since then Cyprus, Greece, and Malta have also banned animals in circuses. 


How to help 

The best thing to do is not go to circuses that use animals for entertainment and to educate people to not go to those circuses as well. If they do not make a profit they will find a better way to make money without hurting animals. The only reason animals are used in circuses is because they attract people who are interested in seeing these exotic animals. The audience watching the circuses does not know what happens behind the scene so educating friends and family is important!



 Drah, Hermina “15 Reasons the Use of Circus Animals Must Be Banned.” Petpedia, 16 Dec. 2021,  accessed April 2, 2022


“10 Reasons Not to Attend an Animal Circus.” PETA, 18 May 2021,  accessed April 2, 2022


“11 Facts About Circus Animal Abuse.”, accessed April 2, 2022

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