Stop Circus Suffering

Norway: ADI and NOAH launch shocking video and report on circus animal suffering

The creator of Nemi, Lise Myhre; actress Ane Dahl Torp; ‘Idol’ singer Mari Vestbø; and actor Karl Sundby support the demand for animal-free circuses.

On April 12th NOAH- for dyrs rettigheter and Animal Defenders International (ADI) will be launching the video and written report “Forced to entertain” about the suffering of animals kept in circuses in Norway and other countries. A press conference will be held at 12 noon at the Conference room 6, Oslo Kongressenter Folkets Hus BA, Youngstorget 11, in Oslo, Norway.

The world’s circus animals live in a reality that involves training relying on violence and a life in chains and tiny cages. The circus industry is an international business where animals are sent from one country to the next to be used in entertainment. For that reason the effort against the circuses has to be international as well.

The Norwegian government’s White Paper on animal welfare resulted in indications that the natural needs of animals were to be widely taken into consideration. One of the first things on the politicians’ agenda should accordingly be to ban the use of animals in circuses, because there is nothing more contradictory to nature than what these animals have to endure. Horses tied to a pole for most of the day, elephants chained in one position, dogs in cages and camels tied to lorries – the circus snatches away any reasonable quality of life from all these animals merely for the sake of entertainment. “Even though the circus illusion attempts to give the public a different image, these animals are actually forced to entertain”, says veterinarian Siri Martinsen, from NOAH- for dyrs rettigheter.

The Norwegian circus campaign is a collaboration between ADI, an organisation which has documented animal abuse in circuses all over the world. and NOAH, one of Norway’s largest animal rights organisations. ADI works in partnership with organisations from different countries as part of its international Stop Circus Suffering campaign, to end the use and abuse of animals in circuses worldwide. Tim Phillips, Campaigns Director, ADI, has worked undercover in circuses and filmed hours of abuse and stereotypical behaviour. He has produced the video “ Forced to entertain”, and will be participating in tomorrow’s press conference.

ADI’s studies over the past ten years have demonstrated that with the best will in the world, under circumstances of constant travelling, circuses cannot provide adequately for the needs of the animals in their care. No other industry is actually based on keeping animals in temporary accommodation and forcing them to do unnatural tricks. “I have seen circus animals whipped and beaten with iron bars to force them to perform tricks and animals living in confined, deprived, unnatural environments. I hope that people will watch this video and discover the truth about animals in circuses, and agree that it is time to end this unnecessary abuse”, says Phillips. He confirmed that the circus is an international industry, and that the conditions are by no means “better” in Norway than other countries.

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with NOAH in a drive to end the suffering of circus animals in Norway. We have seen how inappropriate the temporary accommodation employed by Norway’s travelling circuses is for animals, particularly for exotic animals like elephants – forced to endure what is for them a harsh and unnatural climate”, says Phillips.

The message of the campaign is also supported by prominent scientists. Joyce Poole, expert on communication between elephants, confirms that circuses are not a suitable residence for the animals she has studied for 30 years.

“Elephants in circuses are confined and chained for hours, are bought and sold, separated from companions, and frequently moved about. An elephant´s place is in the wild with its relatives and companions. The totally unnatural existence for captive elephants in a circus is a travesty and to allow this practice to continue is unjustified and unethical. I do not support the use of animals as objects of entertainment in circuses”, says Poole.

NOAH thinks the Norwegian politicians are going against one of the most important conclusions of the White Paper for animal welfare – investment in knowledge and behavioural research – when they allow animals to be exploited in circuses.

“The circus teaches children that animals belong in cages and chains, that stereotypic behaviour is normal and that animals are made for performing tricks and juggling. The circus misleads children and creates the wrong impressions of animals. With the knowledge we have about animals today, keeping animals in circuses can no longer be permitted”, says Siri Martinsen.

Artists supporting our campaign:

Lise Myhre, creator of Nemi:

– I support the demand from NOAH and ADI to ban the use of animals in circuses. It is absurd to lock animals in cages and containers or keep them in chains, simply for the sake of entertainment. Those who think animals voluntarily balance on top of each other or stand on their heads, should see the film “Forced to entertain”. We should have progressed enough in our days to ban a tradition that can be traced back to “freakshows”.

Mari Vestbø, artist in “Idol”:
– To human performers entertaining is fun, but animals have to be confined and are forced to entertain. Animals should have the right to live freely, not in cages and transport vehicles at a circus. I encourage everyone to participate as activists in NOAH’s work for animal-free circuses, and see the film “ Forced to entertain”, available from NOAH.

Ane Dahl Torp, actress:
– I have seen the film “ Forced to entertain” by NOAH and ADI, and was shocked by the circuses’ treatment of the animals. It is wrong to have animals in captivity under such conditions, and I don’t want scared, under-stimulated and quite frankly tormented animals to entertain us.

Karl Sundby, actor:
– As artists we can say that the stage is our world, and we want to give the audience a memorable experience, create illusions and inspire fantasy. But the stage is not the world of animals – their world is nature. Circus animals are performers against their will. We should not create the illusion that this is different. I support NOAH and ADI’s demand for animal-free circuses, and call on all circus owners to comply with the request.

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