In the Circus, 2 Hours of Entertainment = A Lifetime of Misery

  • by: Cheri Waltz
  • recipient: Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chair Senate Agriculture Committee; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Chair, Senate Livestock Subcommittee; Representative Frank Lucas, Chair House Agriculture Committee; Representative Thomas Rooney, Chair Livestock Subcommittee

It has been proven that animals in the circus are beaten and abused to make them do unnatural tricks for human entertainment. Many countries such as Bolivia and Greece have banned animals in the circus. Please, No Animals in the Circus.


USDA Penalizes Ringling $270,000, largest fine in circus history -


Expose on Ringling, 'Cruelest Show on Earth' by Deborah Nelson, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist - 


Elephants Hit with Bullhooks by Ringling Employees.  -


Fact Sheet of Deaths, Failure to Comply, Elephant Tuberculosis, Impeding Investigations, Criminal Activity, Declining Popularity  -


Let this touch your heart in viewing the suffering -


We the undersigned respectfully request a ban on animals in the circus because their living conditions are completely inadequate and they suffer greatly. No animal should live in fear and misery all of its life with no relief. Despite widespread documentation, APHIS has been powerless to stop it. This deserves a congressional investigation at the least, but the real answer to this suffering is a total ban.

Basics of living are denied.  Circus animals often have limited access to adequate water or food. They are denied sustenance before and in between performances in order to not soil the ring.  Training is abusive and they live in constant fear. Traveling animals languish because they are not out be in their cages for as long as three days. Circuses claim they have exercise programs; truth is the animals are only let out to perform. 

Tigers and lions are kept in cages where they live and travel in cages 4 feet by 6 feet by 5 feet - this is barely enough room to turn around. They are only let out to perform.  These magnificent cats have been seen banging their heads against the bars. There is little stimulation other than their training sessions, which include whips, electric prods all instill fear, torture and pain. 

Bears may have their noses broken while being trained or have their paws burned to force them to stand on their hind legs. The cruel training techniques and unnatural movements can cause physical disorders and illness in them.

Horses are confined to small corrals. Being in there for hours, the horses pace back and forth. 

The use of exceptionally large and intelligent animals such as elephants is particularly egregious. Where elephants can roam up to 30 miles a day in the wild, circus elephants are chained in one place for hours, even days at a time, only let out to perform. When traveling, short chains are on all four legs. The result of this is head swaying, depression, poor health and foot infections which lead to death. 

Elephant training for the circus begins very early, usually within a few months after birth. In the wild, infants stay with their mothers for up to 5 years, as they are milk dependent. In the circus, they are torn away from their mothers and started on the training or breaking sessions very early on. These training sessions often involve ropes being tied to the calf's front and back legs. They are also tazered to get into the trick positions desired by the trainers.The ropes can cause burns as the baby struggles to get back to its mother; both mother and calf are psychologically damaged.

Having the life span close to that of humans, an elephant can live up to 80 years. In the circus, most die long before they reach 60. Their final years are lived in pain from arthritis which develops into osteomyelitis from standing chained in one place for too long and performing unnatural tricks that cause stress on and break down their joints. They suffer other infections from being jabbed with the ankus, or bullhook. As APHIS reports state over and over, they do not receive proper veterinary care. There is not enough exercise so their feet often become infected, especially from standing in their own urine. There is also the danger of being attacked by other elephants when they do not get along. They are beaten with whips, stunned with electric prods of a million volts. Before a performance, they are smacked, punched and jabbed to keep them submissive. Elephants do not forget their abuse and there is the danger of the trainer being attacked; it is the reason trainers carry a bullhook at all times, to keep fear instilled in the animal. 

Outlawing the use of animals in circus acts would not threaten the industry as many circuses thrive without the use of animals. A variety of circuses successfully perform without the use of animals, some examples are: American Crown Circus; Bindlestiff Family Circus; Circo Fantastico; Circus Millennia; Circus Minimus; Circus Oz; Cirque Plume; Cloud Seeding Circus; Cirque Eos; Cirque du San Jose; Cirque du Soleil; Cirque Eloize; Cirque Ingénieux; Cirque NuAge; Earth Circus; Fern Street Circus; Flying Fruit Fly Circus; Flying High Circus; Gregangelo & Velocity Circus Troupe; Hiccup Circus; Hawaii's Volcano Circus; Lazer Vaudeville; Les Colporteurs; Make a Circus; Mexican International Circus; Moscow State Circus; The New Pickle Family Circus; The New Shanghai Circus; Zamperla Thrill Circus 

The purpose of the circus is to entertain audiences in a traveling show. The human performers have amazing talents and have the right to work.  Eliminating the use of animals does not in any way alter the objective of the circus, entertainment. More and more countries are banning animals in the circus. The United States should be the leading example. Why not the United States?

A couple of hours of entertainment is a lifetime of misery for the animals. Please ban animals in the circus.

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