Stop Circus Suffering

Animal circus phase-out proposed in Italy!

UPDATE: The final vote on the bill to phase out ALL animals in circuses and travelling shows took place on November 8th 2017 in the Assembly of the Italian Parliament and is now law! Read more here »

In support of government proposals to phase out animal acts, a special workshop hosted by LAV in association with ADI is being held in the Italian Senate this week.

The workshop titled ‘Italy towards a phase-out of circus animals with the future adoption of the ‘Code of Live Entertainment’ will feature expert speakers including ADI President Jan Creamer who will outline ADI’s 25-year mission to expose circus suffering around the world, and assist governments with law enforcement and animal relocations.

The award-winning film Lion Ark, charting the ADI rescue operation to enforce legislation banning animal circuses in Bolivia, will have its Italian premiere at the event, which Members of Parliament are invited to attend.

Current legislation governing the use of animals in circuses in Italy dates back to 1968 and is out of step with public and expert opinion. Independent polls have shown that more than 70% are in favour of an animal circus ban.

A new report commissioned by LAV and conducted by Censis provides irrefutable evidence of the public’s shift in attitudes to animal circuses and the decline in such acts finding:

  • A 5.1% decline in audiences attending animal circus shows. Between 2010 and 2015, audiences fell from 1,155,182 to 1,096,695.
  • A 10.9% decline in the number of shows performed by circuses. Between 2010 and 2015, these fell from 17,100 to 15,242.
  • A decline in box office sales in all but 5 regions of Italy, ranging from -3.7% to -76.5%.
  • A 9.3% decline in public funding of animal circuses.
  • Around 2,000 animals are currently used in circuses – the estimated cost of looking after the 50 elephants, 20 rhinos, 160 tigers and 60 lions/other cats in Italian circuses is approx 2,766,335 Euros.

If passed, Italy will join 18 European countries, and 34 around the world, with restrictions in place.

ADI’s case studies over the past twenty years have concluded that given the constant travel, the need for animal accommodation to be small, lightweight and mobile, circuses cannot provide the animals with the space and environment they need to maintain physical and psychological health. Welfare is always compromised.

Circus animals are confined in small spaces, spend excessive time shut in trailers and trucks and often demonstrate abnormal behaviours – rocking, swaying, and pacing, indicating they are stressed and not coping with their environment. ADI’s video evidence shows how these animals are forced to perform tricks through physical violence, fear and intimidation. Casual violence in handling animals is part of the culture. Circus workers are understandably fearful when moving large and potentially dangerous wild animals across open ground and near the public, and under time pressure, which leads to increased aggression and violence towards the animals.

This has now been supported by the science. A July 2016 expert analysis of scientific evidence commissioned by the Welsh Government and undertaken by Professor Stephen Harris at Bristol University concluded, “The available scientific evidence indicates that captive wild animals in circuses and other travelling animal shows do not achieve their optimal welfare requirements.” The report stated that “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’”.

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) has concluded “there is by no means the possibility that their [wild mammals in travelling circuses’] physiological, mental and social requirements can adequately be met.”

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