Stop Circus Suffering

The science on suffering: Accommodation, health, psychological effects, travelling

More than any other industry, due to the nature of a travelling circus – with the concomitant restrictions on cage sizes and poor environment – the evidence has shown that travelling circuses cannot adequately provide for the basic welfare and environmental needs of the animals in their care.

 8. Accommodation, health, psychological effects, travelling

  • More than any other industry, due to the nature of a travelling circus – with the concomitant restrictions on cage sizes and poor environment – the evidence has shown that travelling circuses cannot adequately provide for the basic welfare and environmental needs of the animals in their care.
  • Travelling circuses present a series of recognised animal welfare problems, including:

– Excessive periods of time spent shut inside transporters – whether travelling or not;
– temporary facilities lacking space and environmental enrichment for most of the year;
– limited exercise enclosures that are only available to some of the animals – for example too many animals for the space provided; use of the facility on a rota system cannot be maintained; ‘difficult’ animals not being allowed into the enclosure;
– travelling whilst sick, injured, or pregnant, and forced to give birth on the road in a noisy environment;
– violence and force being commonplace – part of the circus culture and husbandry practices – accepted as a means to move animals about;
– complex or unnatural tricks (such as hind leg walking) requiring very close control and domination during training, resulting in violence.
– Inappropriate groupings and positioning of caging (e.g. mixing of species – or prey species close to predators; herd species kept alone).

  • No other working animals spend almost their entire year (up to 8 months) in temporary travelling accommodation.
  • Space will always be limited, and facilities poor.{*}ADI studies found, for example:

– Horses and ponies spending up to 96% of the time tied on short ropes and in stalls and time in the ring is strictly controlled and restricted.
– Tigers and lions spending between 75-99% of their time in their travelling cages, on the back of transporters, in severely cramped conditions.
– Elephants were shown to be spending 70-98% of their time chained to the ground by two legs, only able to take one step forwards and one backwards (there is now just one UK circus elephant, but such husbandry remains the global circus norm)

  • Therefore it is essential that an Animal Welfare Bill allows for the prohibition of the use of specific species in specific circumstances, on grounds of welfare.
  • At time of writing, Clause 25 of the Scottish Bill provides for regulations to be made prohibiting the keeping of a specified type of animal at domestic or any other form of premises.

 

Transport & life in transporters:

  • Animal transport regulations are difficult to enforce because of the nature of the industry – incidents recorded include:

– A seriously ill lioness moved twice, and treated by the circus workers;
– tigers and lions sharing their transporter with circus equipment;
– animals on the road performing during pregnancy, and giving birth on tour;
– a sick elephant (Anne, with Bobby Roberts’ Circus) shut in her transport wagon for almost 18 hours when the journey itself was 25 miles and took 45 minutes;
– horses kept in their transporter for over 18 hours for the same journey;
– a Shetland pony was kept on board a transporter for 25.75 hours despite the total journey time being five hours
– camels spent 16.5 hours on a lorry for a five hour journey, whilst another camel was in a lorry for 23 hours for a journey of just a few hours
– a bear spent almost 39 hours in his container on the back of a lorry with 15 minutes break for a performance;
– sea lions spent 80% of their time in their cage on the transporter;
– a llama was kept in a small stall tethered to a rope measuring 1m, for 96% of the time

at one circus, horses spent 23 hours a day in stables

Furthermore, in winter quarters (permanent training centres), lions, tigers, and other cats have been recorded left in their cages from between 72% and 99% of the time. These are frequently the same cages used for travelling. In one facility, a giraffe remained in a small stall in a barn for the entire time for 3 months. Five elephants spent almost their entire time in a barn for up to four months (period varied with each elephant).

Health:

  • A range of injuries and illnesses have been observed which can be related to the UK weather, lack of protection from the elements, poor accommodation, poor husbandry, some of these include:-

– lions suffering joint problems;
– horses with hoof problems;
– injuries from equipment and chains;
– injuries from attacks by staff or other animals;
– eye, stomach and other infections;
– lameness;
– animals such as large cats with the tip of the tail chopped off, as a result of cage doors being dropped on them in the rush to get them in or out
– elephants with a variety of health problems, including skin, abscesses, joints, feet, etc.
– an ADI veterinary inspection of an elephant (Anne) confirmed that she has arthritis. She has continued to travel with the circus.
– pregnant animals in shows (lions and camels).

Click here for a PDF of the report

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