Current Use of Animals in Circuses Worldwide…

Brad Frankel

Mar 6, 2016 | News, Thailand, Travel

Here Gemma Annan from ThailandElephants.Org shares her views on the treatment of Elephants within the Circus community around the world. Gemma is a regular contributor to Flooglebinder, which we thank her for. If you would also like to share your views and stories please get in touch!

Today it is common knowledge that life in the circus is no breeze if you are an animal. With intensive and more often than not cruel training methods, as well as living in cramped cadges whilst constantly moving through polluted cities, it can only be a good thing that activists are finally being heard. People are realising this is no suitable life for any animal!

In July 2009, Bolivia was the first country in the world to introduce a national ban on the use of ALL animals from circuses, since then Cypress, Greece and Malta have followed suit. A further 28 countries have enforced some kind of ban using animals in circuses (see below) but the UK, Australia, USA and Canada are far behind with only local bans in place.

Although the UK are no longer famous for performing animals there are still a hand full of performing wild animals such as lions, tigers, snakes, zebras and camels. There are over 200 local bans on animal use in UK circuses with 2/3 of these banning all performing animals and 1/3 only banning wild animals. The UK Government had agreed to nationally ban the use of wild animals in circuses by the end of 2015, but this has not yet been enforced. Currently this ban is being reviewed; Wales may be the first to implement the ban which in turn will hopefully pressure the rest of the UK to do the same.

Northern America has 50 partial or full animal bans which is not great progress for such a largely developed country. Although Ringling Bros have agreed to stop using elephants in their circuses, they will continue to use other wild animals which are treated equally as bad.

The U.S.A has a long way to go to progress animal right movements and stop suffering and exploitation.

It is said that 95% of a circus animal’s life is spent in chains or cadges.

There have been many accounts of animal abuse exposed in circuses worldwide; hence why many circus companies have come to a close or stopped/stopping to exploit animals. An example of this in the UK was Anne, the UKs last performing elephant. In 2011 it came to light that Anne was being viciously mistreated at Bobby Robert’s ‘Super Circus’ by her carer; Anne was kicked and beaten with a pitchfork. Roberts was found guilty of inflicting unnecessary pain to a performing animal and was given a 3 year conditional discharge. Anne was transported to Longleat Safari Park where she no longer has to perform.

But the sad fact is that it is now common knowledge this still happens! Animals worldwide are mistreated in order to get them to perform our entertainment! It’s time this stopped!

It is in the best interest of the animals that every country reviews the ban on animal use in circuses, as stated by many of Europe’s leading vets “it is not possible to meet the animal’s mental, physiological and social requirements in travelling circuses!”

What you can do to help end this suffering –

Don’t visit circuses that offer animal performances. Encourage friends and family to do the same.

Write to your local MP and ask them to support the introduction/implantation of a national ban.

Write to your local council asking them to ban animal circuses from their land.

If a animal circus visits your area

Write a letter to your local Newspaper asking people to boycott the show.

Ask local shops that display circus posters to remove them

Complain to local council about ‘fly posting’ of posters.

Join animal rights activists to take more action –, ENDCAP, Animal defenders International & Captive Animal’s Protection Society

The future of animal use in circuses depends on us! The more people that actively speak out about animal exploitation and abuse, the higher chance it will END!

The circus can be a truly magical place where true talent and amazement can be witnessed… circuses such as Cirque du Soleil, Circus Vargas, Cirque Productions, African Roots Circus, harm no animals and provide spectacular entertainment… this should be the future of circuses!

Below you can see which countries have partially or fully banned animal use in circuses (Combined from ENDCAP, One Green Planet and PETA):

All Animals: Cypress, Greece, Malta, Bolivia

All WILD Animals: Austria, Bosnia, Norway, Croatia, Slovenia, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Savador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore, Israel, Mexico

Some or most WILD animals: Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Portugal, Sweden, India, Belgium, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Ecuador

All WILD-CAUGHT animals: Estonia, Hungary, Poland

Cites Species: Hungary, Slovakia

Every country that enforces the ban is a positive step for animals; it proves the world is changing!


If you need any help or advice with your trip please email me on

Brad Frankel
Lissie Geyer

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