9 out of 10 animals rescued from EU circuses suffer from trauma


9 out of 10 animals rescued from EU circuses suffer from trauma

28 February 2023
According to a new study conducted by AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection, no less than 89% of the exotic animals they rescued from European circuses suffered from mental or physical trauma. Nearly 8 out of 10 animals even suffered from multiple veterinary or behavioural problems.

The results of their new study are clear: forcing wild animals to live and perform in circuses is unacceptable for their welfare and should be banned.

For their new report 'The Darkness Behind the Spotlight', our member organisation AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection analysed the health of 73 former circus animals rescued between 2015 and 2021. The animals rescued from circuses in France, Spain and Germany among others, had been performing for at least a year. Almost half of the cases had external injuries. For example, lions, tigers and pumas were injured or had been forcefully declawed. Twenty animals had severe veterinary and behavioural problems, often requiring multiple veterinary treatments. Three of them had to be euthanised shortly after their arrival at an AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection rescue centre due to their irreversible suffering from severe trauma. However, the trauma is not only physical. More than a quarter of the animals exhibited abnormal behaviour detrimental to their welfare, including self-injury.

Animals in circuses are prone to malnutrition, behavioural and physical problems due to the frequent travel of circuses, the cramped and unsuitable conditions in which they are kept, and the forced interaction between humans and animals. Most EU Member States recognise the threat to animals in circuses and have therefore implemented some form of regulation or ban. The notable exception: Germany still has no regulations to end the use and suffering of exotic animals in circuses. According to a survey we conducted in 2021, more than 150 wild animals still perform in some 75 circuses in Germany. Most of them (45%) are big cats, such as lions and tigers. They will continue to suffer without a ban on exotic animals in circuses. 

While AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection has been able to save many exotic animals from circuses over the years, hundreds are still suffering. Without stricter regulations, these animals will continue to endure trauma on a daily basis. This is why AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection wants to use its 50 years of expertise in animal rescue to work with decision-makers in Germany and the EU for better animal welfare legislation.

The darkness behind the spotlights

Wild Animals in EU Circuses: Problems, Risks and Solutions

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