Ice bears forced to peform tricks.

Circuses severely exploit and abuse animals, forcing them to perform acts that are both unnatural and demeaning.

Animal-free circuses are a great alternative.


Circus animals spend most of their lives being transported in cages on top of trucks. Some circuses travel thousands of miles each year. Sometimes the animals are allowed to spend some time in an exercise cage. The only other times they get to be outside of their cages is to rehearse or perform.

Tiger transported inside a cage.

A tethered solitary circus elephant.

Life in Chains or Cages

Elephants who in nature love to roam around spend most of the day being chained by a front and a hind leg, barely able to move. Like zoo elephants, circus elephants show a lot of abnormal behaviors like rocking, swaying and nodding. The same is true for the other circus animals. Horses, who are very social animals, are separated and kept in tiny pens when they are not performing or rehearsing. Even dogs are usually kept in cages or tied up.

Animal Care

As a result of not having a lot of money, circus operations will frequently not give their animals enough water or food, clean their cages properly or give them adequate medical care.

Circus bear kept in a small cage.

Baby elephant trained by Ringling Bros circus workers.

Animal Training

Animal trainers will often use very brutal training methods to establish and maintain the control necessary to make the circus animals perform their tricks. Ex-trainers and other circus employees have spoken up about the use of electric shock devices, sticks with concealed screws or spikes and the severe beatings circus animals have to endure.

"After 25 years of observing and documenting circuses, I know there are no kind animal trainers."

-- Pat Derby, former animal trainer.
Copyright © 2008-2015 by Wanda Embar. All Rights Reserved. Legal/Contact Me.
Tethered elephant by SAFE. Baby elephant trained by PETA
Other pictures by The Animals Voice.