TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Learn how whips, muzzles, bullhooks, and other tools
are used during circus acts
In the wild, bears don't ride bicycles, tigers don't
jump through fiery hoops, and elephants don't stand upright on their hind
Circuses portray a distorted view of wildlife.
Laws protecting animals in traveling shows are
inadequate and poorly enforced. The Animal Welfare Act establishes only
minimum guidelines and even these meager standards are often ignored.
Animals used in circuses live a dismal life of
domination, confinement, and violent training. It is standard practice to
beat, shock, and whip them to make them perform ridiculous tricks that they
Most elephants used by circuses were captured in the
wild. Once removed from their families and natural habitat, their lives
consist of little more than chains and intimidation. Baby elephants born in
breeding farms are torn from their mothers, tied with ropes, and kept in
isolation until they learn to fear their trainers.
Big cats, bears, and primates are forced to eat, drink,
sleep, defecate, and urinate in the same cramped cages.
Elephants often suffer crippling injuries from constant
chaining and performing physically difficult tricks.
Children, who are naturally fond of animals, would have
to be dragged kicking and screaming to the circus if they knew of the
suffering these animals endure for a fleeting moment of so- called
The circus deprives animals of their basic needs to
exercise, roam, socialize, forage, and play. Stereotypic behaviors such as
swaying back and forth, head-bobbing, pacing, bar-biting, and
self-mutilation are common signs of mental distress.
Using dangerous animals in performances jeopardizes
public safety and often puts children at greatest risk. Since 1990, 57
people have been killed and more than 120 seriously injured by captive
Animals in circuses are hauled around the country in
poorly ventilated trailers and boxcars for up to 50 weeks a year in all
kinds of extreme weather conditions. Access to the basic necessities of
food, water, and veterinary care is often inadequate.
A growing number of cities are restricting or banning
the use of animals in entertainment. More progressive circuses dazzle their
audiences solely with skilled human performers.
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