Circus tigers are finally living in a natural habitat
Six German circus tigers were successfully transferred to our refuge LIONSROCK in South Africa.
In November 2013 we transferred six tigers from the German Zirkus ‘Starlight Fischer’ in Hessen, Weilburg, to our wildlife sanctuary LIONSROCK in South Africa. On arrival, the six cats were released into a large familiarisation enclosure. The animals were coping well during the long flight from Frankfurt/Main to Johannesburg and are now exploring their new home, a natural habitat without bars and under blue sky.
The life of a circus tiger
All of the six tigers were born in German circuses and came to Zirkus ‘Starlight’ as cubs. Four of the cats were performing in the circus arena until they became mature tigers. Since then, they have been split into groups of two and four and have been transported into 25 m² circus wagons where they occasionally had access to a water basin. When the circus was stationed in a town, the animals were taking turns using an outside enclosure. These conditions were unsuitable for the animal’s needs and completely below the standard requirements. Tigers in captivity require huge, structured enclosures, with space to withdraw and hide for each of the animals in the enclosure. Furthermore, they need sufficient-sized water basins, and raised platforms or trunks for climbing, laying and scratching. Travelling circuses cannot offer these conditions, they change location frequently and the conditions in the wagons and pens are extremely cramped.
After months of discussion, we and the responsible veterinary authority of Gross-Gerau were able to convince the circus to hand their tigers over to us. We are very happy about the circus decision and we ask other circuses to follow Starlight’s example. The successful transfer of the tigers shows that solutions for circuses and their wild animals are possible. We see this transfer as an opportunity to ask the new German government for a legal ban on wild animals in circuses. This item needs to be required in the coalition contract.
An estimated 200 big cats, including 100 tigers, are leading a sad existence in German circuses. For a long time now, the keeping of wild animals in circuses has been openly criticised. Non-domesticated animals such as elephants, giraffes and big cats cannot be kept in conditions that comply with the animals’ needs. This has been agreed by scientists, the federal veterinarian institute, a vast majority of the German Bundesländer and last but not least the German public.
Their new home
In a few weeks, the six tigers from Zirkus ‘Starlight’ will move from their familiarisation enclosure to their final home. The new arrivals mean a total of eighty-two lions and fourteen tigers as well as zebras, gnus, horses and antelopes now live in the 1.250 hectare large wildlife sanctuary LIONSROCK near Bethlehem.