Stop Circus Suffering

Join worldwide condemnation for Portugal’s Celebrity Circus

Film production giant behind the ‘Big Brother’ show is being called on to drop a celebrity reality TV show set in a circus.

Circo Victor Hugo Cardinali

Film production giant behind the ‘Big Brother’ show is being called on to drop a celebrity reality TV show set in a circus, which was first screened on Sunday, 19 March 2006. The show from Endemol plans features celebrities performing with animals in Circo Victor Hugo Cardinali, the largest animal circus in Portugal.

ADI has contacted Endemol offices in twenty-three countries urging them to drop the programme. Other animal protection groups will be joining the campaign to bring Endemol under enormous global pressure to axe the show.

Campaigners are particularly horrified that the producers are using Circo Victor Hugo Cardinali. Last year ADI filmed inside 11 Portuguese circuses. During one show, owner Victor Hugo Cardinali was filmed jabbing a performing elephant in the face with a metal spike more than 20 times to force it to perform a trick on a pedestal.

Victor Hugo Cardinali admitted (in response to the footage broadcasted by two TV stations of him spiking the elephants) during a Portuguese radio interview: “I did hit the elephant because he did not want to do the trick and I don’t deny it. We can’t let an animal do what he wants to do, otherwise there is no respect and there is no reason for the trainer to be on stage”. He clearly confessed that he uses violence when training animals and that for him that is the only way for a trainer to act.

The ADI team also filmed Victor Hugo Cardinali’s sister Soledad Cardinali in her own circus repeatedly whipping a small pony during a training session.

Tim Phillips, ADI Campaigns Director, says: “Throughout the world our ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign has opened people’s eyes to the suffering of circus animals. We have seen almost all the animal circuses in the UK close and the industry is in decline across Europe. It will be a travesty if Celebrity Circus revitalises a cruel and dying industry. If people want to see a genuine reality show about circuses they can watch our video.”

This could be a costly blunder for Endemol. If Endemol globally becomes associated with the type of abuse and suffering we have documented in Portuguese circuses it could destroy their reputation. Even if this show is successful in Portugal it could still cost the company millions worldwide as viewers start to turn off.”

ADI, which runs the International Network for the Protection of Performing Animals, is calling on animal protection groups in every country where Endemol has offices to lobby the company to drop the programme. They will also be contacting all of their celebrity supporters urging them to boycott any Endemol productions if the company does not adopt a policy of ensuring no animal suffering occurs in its programmes or as a result of its programmes.

In the UK, EastEnders TV star and ADI supporter Peter Polycarpou has been quick to condemn the new show: “I thought reality TV had hit rock bottom but I was wrong. The new benchmark for bad taste is a reality TV circus show. For anyone to be in any doubt that circus animals are mistreated and abused on a daily basis in order to train and subdue them is to be out of touch with reality. Any celebrity who does not know this is refusing to face reality.”

ADI also notes that the programme will be bad for Portugal’s image. Nearly two million UK tourists holiday in Portugal each year. In the UK almost every animal circus has closed due to public pressure, and people will be horrified that they are appearing on prime time TV in Portugal.

Film production group Endemol are responsible for the global marketing of programmes such as Big Brother, Cosmetic Surgery Live, Celebrity Farm and Celebrity Big Brother in over 20 countries. In a series called Celebrity Military Company animals from Circo Chen, another circus exposed by ADI and ANIMAL, were used.

Miguel Moutinho of ANIMAL says: “In Portugal we are just starting to raise people’s consciousness about animals. People are starting to at last question cruel practices like bullfighting and the Stop Circus Suffering campaign we launched last year is having a very big impact. Celebrity Circus could have terrible consequences on animal protection in Portugal – this could be a huge setback.”

Both groups agree that Celebrity Circus could easily be made with a circus that does not use animals.

Please contact Endemol and ask them not to use animals in their shows. If you would like to email all Endemol offices:


Sample letter:
Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to express our dismay at the news that Endemol is producing a ‘Celebrity Circus’ reality TV show in Portugal which, apparently, will feature performing animals.

Endemol has earned a reputation for pioneering many popular TV shows, but this move to include in one of your productions, animals that have suffered deprivation, confinement and often beatings during training, would not only seriously damage your company’s reputation, but flies in the face of public opinion on this issue.

We would like to reassure you that we would happily support Celebrity Circus if it focused upon human talent, and did not include animals. Shows with human only acts have been the biggest growth area in the circus sector of the entertainment industry. This has not just been in the travelling circus, but in places like Las Vegas where there have traditionally been a lot of animal shows – almost all have been replaced by human only shows (such as Cirque du Soleil).

We would urge you to only proceed with this format if it doesn’t employ animals and we would ask that you end your endorsement of Circo Victor Hugo Cardinali.

We hope that Endemol will be able to take a clear ethical position on this matter. Companies like Endemol have a responsibility to uphold society’s disapproval of violence, whatever the species being victimised. Furthermore you have an opportunity to not only keep Endemol at the forefront of entertainment, but also in taking an ethical stance in the entertainment world.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

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