There’s a romantic notion of circuses as being magical places for children, but the reality is quite different.
Animals require natural conditions in order to thrive, and these conditions cannot be recreated artificially in circuses.
The main welfare implications of a circus life for wild animals have been identified as limited availability of space, maternal separation, restricted social interactions, frequent traveling, and training and performance. Our member organisation Animal Defenders International’s footage of circus animals showed abnormal behaviour, unsuitable cages and violence towards the animals. At Chipperfield’s circus in the UK, one of the oldest circuses, two lions and a tiger were found confined to cages on the back of a truck with restricted access to an exercise area.
Dolphins need space in which to move and hunt, and the tanks in which they live are seriously inadequate. In 2019 in Italy, a court found a dolphinarium director and veterinarian guilty of animal abuse, the first court case of this kind won in Europe.
Animals forced to live in unnatural conditions can react in ways which pose a risk to their tamers.
In July 2019 a trainer in Italy was killed by tigers. Moreover, training animals to do tricks which are contrary to their natural behaviour, as well as forcing them to perform, undermines their wellbeing. In other cases, animals are cruelly disfigured, with one lion suffering the removal of his claws and teeth.
In traveling circuses, animals are transported over vast distances.
Evidence collected in an Animal Defenders International report demonstrates that the problems suffered by transported farm animals – such as elevated levels of stress and the risk of falling ill – also apply to circuses. Frequent travel also exposes animals and people to transport-related risks, such as the Gottani Circus crash in southeastern Spain where in April 2018 a circus truck carrying five elephants crashed, killing one and injuring two..
MEMBER STATES HAVE ADOPTED A BAN ON THE USE OF WILD ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES
OF EUROPEANS WANT TO SEE A TOTAL BAN ON WILD ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES
THERE HAVE BEEN
INCIDENTS INVOLVING WILD ANIMALS AND CIRCUS AUDIENCES OVER 22 YEARS
Eurogroup for Animals believes the European Commission should take the lead in banning the use of wild animals in circuses across the EU.
We will work with MEPs to develop legislation to eliminate all use of wild animals for the entertainment of the public.
In addition to our work at the European level, Eurogroup for Animals will support our members in promoting bans on dolphinaria and the use of wild animals in Member States where there is currently no ban.