Circuses: Behind the Scenes

Circuses are travelling entertainment companies that normally take place in a large tent that includes trained animals, acrobats, and clowns.

During these circuses the animals undergo a lot of intense training that the public eye does not see or hear about. The living conditions, the intense training, and the disabilities that the circuses cause to the animals, are only a few of the reasons that the circuses should be banned in the Unites States.

There are a lot of harmful factors that people don’t know or or hear about during the circus. Below are some of the things that animals undergo just to be able to perform in the circuses:

  • Animals spend more than 96% of their lives behind bars
  • Physical punishment is normal for their means of training
  • Partial starvation and dehydration is common
  • The animals could develop disabilities from all of the stress
  1. Animals spend more than 96% of their lives behind bars

One of the main problems with circuses today is the animals environment. On average, animals spend about 96% of their lives behind bars. About 48 weeks throughout the year, animals are confined to small cages that are only big enough to stand up and turn around in. Studies show that animals stay caged anywhere from 26–100 hours while they’re on the off-season or while travelling.

2. Physical punishment is normal for their means of training

In order to train the animals, the trainters use harsh materials like bull hooks, tight collars, whips, muzzles, or electric prods to physically punish them. These tools are used to brutally punish the animals until they get their performace tricks right. Most of these torturous events are hidden from the public eye; however there have been private investigators that have filmed secret footage.

3. Partial starvation and dehydration is common

As well, as punishing the animals with harsh materials, they often force the animals to go long periods of time without food and water. When the aniumals dont perform their tricks or train well that day they are punished by being starved and dehydrated. The ASPCA says that depriving the animals of these basic necessities and the physical abuse is enough to keep them terrified and obedient.

4. The animals could develop disabilities from all of the stress

Because of the way that these animals are treated while in the circuses, it causes mental disorders, shorter lifespans, and physical disabilities. These disabilities are normally caused from their lack of excersise and extreme confinement. Elephants, tigers, and lions, which are used to roaming for miles daily, become prone to joint problems from the lack of excersise.

Another big threat to the health and safety of the people who are attending these circuses is the Wild Animal Acts.

  • Since the 1990’s there have been over 100 human injuries caused by circuses world wide.
  • Circus elephants are known to carry tuberculosis, also known as TB. TB is a bacterial disease that can effect humans. Public records have proven that these animals that are infected with TB have, in fact, been allowed to perform in public.
  • Circuses are not required by law to carry emergency euthanasia equipment, which means that in the case of a loose animals, the local law enforcement agencies are forced to deal with it.

Fortunately, the use of animals in circuses is declining worldwide. Many countries are choosing to either ban the circuses outright or impose super strict regulations.

The United States DOES offer protection for circus animals under the United States Animal Welfare Act, but it is hard for them to monitor all of the circuses in the area. There are up to 12,000 circuses but only 100 inspectors for the Department of Agriculture, which makes the animals more vulnerable to abuse and punishment.

Not only are circuses harmful for the animals, but they are also harmful for today’s children. By bringing our children to circuses we are sending them the wrong message about wild animals. This is why we are sending them the wrong message:

  • In todays society, kids are taught that wild animals live their lives looking for food, taking care of their babies, or sleeping.
  • The circuses claim that they only only train the animals to do tricks that they might naturally perform in the wild, but that is not actually the case. No animals from the wild are costumed, spinning balls on their backs, jumping flames, or walking on their hind legs.
  • These are some of the most unnatural things that contradict the things that we teach kids today.
“For most of the wild things on Earth, the future must depend upon the conscience of mankind.” -Dr. Archie Carr

There are many ways that we can help to ban circuses around the world:

  • Boycott circuses altogether
  • Find ways to entertain people without the use of animals
  • Sign petitions and join campaigns thats goals are to end animal cruelty in the Unites States
  • Contact your local government and urge them to ban animal circuses in your area

There are many animal-free circuses around the world, such as, Cirque du Soleil, Born Free USA’s, The Moisture Festival, or Teatro ZinZanni.
“With your help we campaigned to ban the use of wild animals in circuses and in 2012 the Westminster Government promsed to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses before the end of 2015. Now, in 2017, the long overdue ban still isnt in place. This is unacceptable.” (

Indeed, while circuses are good for the animals to work on their social/behavioral skills, the living environment and methods of trainging make it too harmful for their wellbeing. Since these terrible factors of the circus are kept behind the scenes, it is the public’s job to keep everyone informed on the negative factors of the circuses, so we can be a voice for the animals. In today’s society there are many ways we can help to better the lives of the innocent mistreated animals. In the future, we can hope that circuses will be banned worldwide, and we can raise awareness for animal cruelty.