The Circus is NO Place for Animals


The fact is, animals do not naturally ride bicycles, stand on their heads, balance on balls, or jump through rings of fire. To force them to perform these confusing and physically uncomfortable tricks, trainers use whips, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, bullhooks, and other painful tools of the trade.

"The idea that it is funny to see wild animals coerced into acting like clumsy humans, or thrilling to see powerful beasts reduced to cringing cowards by a whipcracking trainer is primitive and medieval. It stems from the old idea that we are superior to other species and have the right to hold dominion over them." 
- Dr. Desmond Morris, anthropologist, animal behaviorist, author

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.

Cruel Training:
For animals in circuses, there is no such thing as positive reinforcement, only varying degrees of punishment and deprivation. Animals do not voluntarily ride bicycles, stand on their heads, or jump through rings of fire. They don't perform these and other difficult tricks because they want to; they perform because they're afraid not to.

Circuses easily get away with routine abuse because no government agency monitors training sessions. Trainers use bullhooks, whips, sticks, electric prods, and other tools that intentionally cause pain and injury in order to force animals to perform. Undercover footage of behind-the-scenes training shows elephants beaten with bullhooks and shocked with electric prods, big cats dragged by heavy chains around their neck and hit with sticks, bears whacked and prodded with long poles, and chimpanzees kicked and hit with riding crops.

Constant Confinement:
Ringling Bros. boasts that its two units travel more than 25,000 miles as they tour across the country for 11 months each year. Constant travel means that animals are confined to boxcars and trailers for days at a time in extremely hot and cold weather, often without access to basic necessities, such as food, water, and veterinary care.

Some elephants spend almost their whole lives shackled. One study of traveling circuses observed an elephant who spent up to 96 percent of her time in chains. Tigers and lions usually live and travel in cages 4 feet high by 7 feet long by 7 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.

Public Danger:
Frustrated by years of beatings, bullhooks, and shackles, some elephants snap. And when an elephant rebels against a trainer's physical dominance, trainers cannot protect themselves, let alone the public.

In 1994, an elephant killed her trainer and injured 12 spectators before being gunned down by almost 100 bullets while running terrified through downtown Honolulu. In 1992, officer Blayne Doyle had to shoot Janet, an elephant who charged out of the Great American Circus arena with five children on her back. In speaking before members of Congress about the dangers of elephant rampages, Doyle lamented, I have discovered, much to my alarm, that, once an elephant goes out of control, nothing can be done. It is not a predictable or preventable accident. The only thing that can be done and even this is a danger to the publi is to get a battery of police officers in with heavy weapons and gun the elephant down."

We the undersigned request that the Government of the Province of Ontario in Canada, under Her Majesty The Queen, recognize and abolish the use of animals within circuses.

Seek to inaugurate the emergence of animal cruelty inside
circuses; make circuses more humane--to disallow the sale, lease, or employment of animals in travelling shows or circuses.

This is not a means to take away from the talented trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns, tightrope walkers, and acrobats--nor is it meant to make a reduction in the delectation and amusement of circuses, let's just omit the animals; let alone in peace. Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland, and Singapore have all prohibited or put restrictions on the utilization of animals in entertainment--it's time for us to do the same and execute this message throughout the world.

Circuses manipulate animals as marketing tools (on impressionable children). Parents, members of the community, and students have all assembled to admonish circuses with animal performances. Impressionable children might become cognisant of these detestable spectacles: Aberrant behaviour. Child psychologists warn that watching animals being injured, and humiliated for entertainment desensitizes children to the suffering of others.

Thank you for taking time to read this letter. It is certain that in the accompaniment of your assistance one day the usage of animals for entertainment within circuses will surmount as a affair of the past.

(Information on animal cruelty within circuses; courtesy of

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