Stop Circus Suffering

The Arts Council urged to cut funds to Irish animal circuses

Talented human artists who willingly choose to perform, unlike the animals, should be supported instead

As it considers funding applications for the coming year, ADI and ARAN are urging The Arts Council to adapt to changing attitudes and end its support for outdated and unethical animal circuses. We believe that funds should instead be redirected to talented human artists who willingly choose to perform, unlike the animals.

Funding for animal circuses by The Arts Council is already on the decline.  Duffy’s Circus, which has sea lions and zebra as well as domestic animal acts, has received grants since 2006, peaking at €75,000 in 2008 and falling to €36,000 in 2013 and €20,000 for 2014. Grants are also given to Circus Gerbola and Fossetts Circus, which also perform with animals.

ADI and ARAN have previously provided The Arts Council with detailed evidence of how animals in circuses suffer and in our latest letter, we respond to statements made by The Arts Council that attempt to justify their continued funding for animal circuses.

The Arts Council refers to a motion passed in the European Parliament which states “it would be desirable for it to be recognised that the classical circus, including the presentation of animals, forms part of European Culture”. The European Parliament defines classical circus as one which “offers a variety of entertaining acts in the ring, often with animals”. This indicates that the motion applies to the classical circus with or without animal acts, so the Arts Council need not finance animal circuses in order to support classical circuses.

The Arts Council states that it “in no way condones or supports the mistreatment of animals” however by providing financial assistance to animal circuses, The Arts Council is supporting the mistreatment of performing animals, as their welfare is inevitably compromised in the circus.

Although the Arts Council has a ‘welfare framework’ in place, investigations by ADI have shown that regulations cannot safeguard welfare and fail to protect animals from abuse.

Opinion polls consistently show that the public remains overwhelmingly opposed to animal circuses and Irish citizens would be appalled to learn that they are unknowingly helping to prop up businesses which provide no educational or conservation value and cause animal suffering – The Arts Council receives funding principally from the Irish Exchequer, as well as the National Lottery.

While the Irish government has not, unlike England and Wales, committed to introducing an animal circus ban, Minister Simon Coveney has said that a Code of Practice will be developed for circus animals, placing the government in the position of being both a funder and regulator of the industry and presenting an unacceptable conflict of interest.

Despite inaction at a national level, local councils in Ireland continue to ban animal circuses from their land with Cork and South Dublin passing bans this year and Limerick considering a ban in the coming months.

Please join our call to The Arts Council to end funding of animal circuses today.

Take action!

Please send a polite email to The Arts Council Director Orlaith McBride at and request that for funding for animal circuses be stopped

Leave a comment on this story

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.