Q: Are circuses cruel to animals?
I don’t get animal rights activists’ crusade against circuses. The animals are fed well and their lives are in less danger in comparison to their natural environments. They look happy while performig. An hour spent in a circus is also a rare occasion to look at wild animals. Why do some people want to ban them?
A: For several reasons.
Wild animals are wild, which means they should be born, live and die in the wild. Those that are used for entertainment aren’t really wild – they’re usually born in captivity; neglected, not fed properly and often tortured while being trained. They are sad and have had their spirits broken. Besides, they do not act like they would if you could watch them in their natural environments, anyway.
As you can read on peta.org:
Physical punishment has always been the standard training method for animals in circuses. Animals are beaten, shocked, and whipped to make them perform—over and over again—tricks that make no sense to them. The AWA does not prohibit the use of bullhooks, whips, electrical shock prods, or other devices used by circus trainers. Trainers drug some animals to make them “manageable” and surgically remove the teeth and claws from others.
Circus animals – who, depending on species, would naturally walk, run and jump for hours everyday – spend their lives in captivity. When not performing they wait for hours in cramped conditions, chained up in cages or being transported in the backs of trucks.
Even in the UK, which has some of the best animal welfare laws, captive animals sometimes suffer from living outside of their natural habitats.
A recent study by the RSPCA concluded that elephants living in the UK have far shorter lifespans than in the wild and live an existance comparable to “battery chickens”.
As far as animals being safer in captivity, the most common circus animals like tigers, bears and elephants have virtually no natural predators in the wild except humans.
For a graphic depiction of how cruelly circus animals are sometimes treated, follow this link to watch the 9 minute documentary film ‘The Performance’ on animal abuse in Chinese circuses.
Also check out this link for photo documentation of how Ringling Bros., aka the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, cruelly trains baby elephants.
To read more about the animal abuse that takes place in circuses, see the following article from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ media center:
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