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Wild Animals in entertainment

© FOUR PAWS | Fred Dott

Thousands of wild animals are still suffering in European Circuses. A travelling circus cannot afford to take the needs of their performing animals into consideration. The business constantly moves from location to location, cages have to be transported and therefore need to take up as little space as possible. They also need to be able to be assembled and disassembled as fast as possible. And so the animals spend most of their time in transport wagons that are far too small. There’s no room for for the animals to exhibit most of their natural behaviours.

Constriction, stress and boredom

Giraffes, lions and apes are imprisoned in small, caged wagons, a solitary animal like a tiger is simply penned up with other tigers, highly social animals like elephants are kept alone and stand around chained up for hours on end.

The results are strong behavioural disturbances: stereotypical behaviour, aggression or apathy.

Questionable training

In the wild no tiger would jump through a burning hoop, no elephant voluntarily does a handstand. These sorts of "stunts" are always the result of questionable methods of training and are in no way a respite – as many would like you to believe – from the sedentary daily life of the animals.

End without mercy

At the end of their long path of suffering, animals that are too old for the circus ring can seldom hope for a peaceful end or “charity”. Almost no circus can afford that. And so the animals are either put down or sold and thereby delivered to an unknown fate.


FOUR PAWS is campaigning for:


  • An EU-wide ban of wild animals in circuses
  • A ban on breeding and replacing wild animals
  • A positive list of domesticated animal species that may still be kept. Strict regulations must ensure their appropriate keeping. Circuses that cannot meet these animal husbandry demands should fully do without animals.
  • The taking into custody and adequate accommodating of circus animals that are not being looked after well enough.

Take Action

What you can do!


Please write to your local MP, who you can find here: and urge them to sign EDM 60 - which calls on the government to keep its promise and ban this outdated practice.