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Photo: 'Give a Hand', by gilad, used with generous permission of Gilad Benari.

Circus Cruelty
Animals are not suited for circus life. Living an unnatural life is a great hardship.
It is time to end their suffering.

Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur at:  www.weanimals.org
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur at:  www.weanimals.org

The truth behind the tricks: fear, pain, and the bull-hook

Elephants do not naturally stand on stools or do the other tricks they perform in circuses. To get the elephants to do these unnatural behaviours and overcome the natural behaviours of fleeing or fighting back, trainers often use a bull-hook -- a weapon with sharp metal points. The sharp metal head of the bull-hook is attached to a handle or pole. The metal head is used to poke, prod, and actually ‘hook’ into the delicate parts of an elephant’s body. The handle is sometimes used to hit, and even beat, the elephant while they are chained and helpless. This is a bull-hook, up close: 

This video shows how an elephant handler at a Shrine Circus in the U.S. leads a limping elephant  around the ring with a bull-hook sunk behind the elephant's ear.


As the video shows, this was done in full view of a crowd while the limping elephant was made to provide rides for children.  If a handler is willing to sink a bull-hook into this elephant's ear in view of the public, what will he do when they are alone?


Even baby elephants suffer during training for circus tricks. In the wild, baby elephants would be protected by mothers, aunts, grandmothers and sisters. Herds of female elephants co-operate to raise and protect the young elephants.

In circus life, many of the ‘tricks’ that circus animals are forced to perform are painful and frightening. That is why fear and pain are used to force them to over-come their natural instincts and perform the unnatural behaviours or ‘tricks’. Use a search engine to look up: "circus cruelty" and you will see endless evidence of the violence inflicted on animals while they are chained or caged, and completely defenseless.



Lives wasted on the road

Animals in circuses spend much of their lives traveling in trains or trucks - as many as 20 hours at a time confined in small spaces, standing for long hours in their own waste.

Circus elephants are often chained by one or two legs when not performing. This only allows them to shuffle a few steps each way. Chaining, or tethering, causes great frustration as elephants in the wild would normally walk several miles each day. It is the natural behaviour of elephants to be constantly moving, as they travel long distances searching for food and water. Not being able to do these natural behaviours places elephants into a constant state of frustration



Pain and sickness

Circus and zoo elephants often have arthritis and painful foot infections. This is caused by standing for long hours on cement or impacted ground. They are then forced to perform unnatural and painful ‘tricks’ on their arthritic legs and painful feet.

Elephants need to keep moving to maintain healthy joints, legs, and feet. In nature they may walk up to 30 miles each day.



Escapes can kill

Circus animals have injured and even killed people during escape attempts.

Animals in circuses are forced to live lives filled with stress, fear, physical discomfort and pain. Confined and mistreated animals are dangerous and unpredictable. Circus animals, especially elephants, have apparently been driven mad by the extreme misery of their lives.

There are also many cases of elephants in the circus being afflicted with tuberculosis (TB), and they can infect humans with this highly contagious, airborne disease. Investigations have proven that tuberculosis has been present in various circus elephants that were still forced to perform around humans, even while very sick.



Our communities can do better: demand change!

Anyone can view the miserable truth behind the circus, yet we allow this misery to continue in our communities. Surely we should ask ourselves why modern, progressive societies tolerate this violence against defenseless animals.

The nations of Bolivia and Peru have taken the lead, by completely banning the use of all animals, both domestic and wild, from circuses. Dozens of other nations have also enacted nationwide circus bans, including Croatia, Austria, Greece, Costa Rica, Israel, and Singapore - check this list for more. In Spain, more than 60 cities have enacted bans against animals in circuses. The United Kingdom is also making change in their circus industry. These cases demonstrate that there IS political will to have such bans, in addition to the public support.

Help the animals that endure this treatment - boycott circuses that use animals and encourage others to do the same and ask all levels of government: municipal, provincial/state, and federal, to ban the use of all animals in circuses and other performances.


      For more on circus cruelty, watch this presentation and visit the organizations listed below.



      Animals Australia       http://www.animalsaustralia.org/issues/circuses.php
      Animal Defenders International   http://www.ad-international.org/campaigns/go.php?si=73
      Born Free USA   
      Captive Animal Protection Society   
      In Defense of Animals 
Zoocheck   http://zoocheck.com/campaigns_circuses_res.html




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