The problem with animal circuses is twofold; issues with animal cruelty and public safety.
Circus animals are forced to perform in traveling performances that are detrimental to their welfare. Exotic circus animals, such as elephants, bears, tigers, lions, and monkeys are forced to perform tricks that require abusive training practices such as electric shock, whips, bull hooks, restriction of food and water as well as other forms of physical abuse. Circuses are not only dangerous for the animals but the public, which over thirty-five reported incidents of deaths and injuries of people due to escaped animals (United States Department of Agriculture, 2015). A lengthy list is currently available at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website with information about citations and fines issued to the various traveling animal circuses for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) (United States Department of Agriculture, 2015). These humane treatment laws include provisions for adequate medical care, safe transportation, and appropriate housing for animals. The USDA citations range from hitting elephants, beating tigers, deaths from poorly ventilated boxcars, elephants being chained to boxcars for periods longer than 24 hours, and failure to comply with humane treatment laws. Regular undercover investigations have captured significant abuse to the animals at the hands of circus employees.
Additionally, the rigorous travel schedule of animal circuses also requires extended periods of captivity and deprivation, which impacts the physical and psychological health of circus animals.
Our position is that circuses are cruel and exploitative and not the least bit entertaining and should be prohibited from profiting in our community of Tucson.