Stop Circus Suffering

Stop Circus Suffering in Europe

Join our call for a Europe-wide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses

Elephants perform in Victor Hugo Cardinali circus.

ADI is calling for a Europe-wide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, as part of our international Stop Circus Suffering campaign and the new ‘EU Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign.

ADI is working with coalition Eurogroup for Animals, of which ADI is a member, to launch the campaign, which adopts the name of ADI’s global ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign of more than 20 years.

23 member states of the European Union have already adopted national restrictions on the use of animals in circuses. In the US, more than 100 jurisdictions in 34 states have passed restrictions on the use animals in circuses, with New Jersey, Hawaii, and California passing statewide measures.

How the campaign is being won

Since the launch of the first investigation in 1992, ADI has produced hundreds of hours of video and witness evidence, exposing how circus animals, especially large wild animals, are highly stressed and live in constant fear. Day to day handling of the animals involves physical violence, fear and intimidation – the same brutality as when the animals are forced to perform. Circuses cannot meet the physical or behavioral needs of animals, especially wild animals.

Given the constant travel and their temporary nature, circuses simply cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them physically or psychologically healthy. Welfare is always compromised.

ADI evidence, and other studies, have shown health and welfare of animals in circuses is compromised due to the necessarily small, barren, mobile accommodations, restriction of movement, long journeys and excessive periods of time shut away in transporters and containers with no environmental stimulation or ability to perform natural behaviours.

As a result, these animals often demonstrate abnormal behaviours – rocking, swaying, and pacing, indicating they are in distress and not coping with their environment.

Evidence from ADI’s investigations and campaigns with local partners have resulted in the closure of circuses, rescue of animals, and passage of regional and national bans on the use of circus animals in Europe, the UK, Latin America and elsewhere. 48 countries – nearly a quarter of the world’s nationshave taken action to restrict the use of animals in circuses to date.

Bans are being discussed in the US at federal, state and local level, and a Europe-wide ban adds momentum to this worldwide change in how humans treat the other species who share our planet. Cruelty and suffering of animals for just a few minutes of entertainment has no place in modern society.

A Savanta ComRes opinion poll for Eurogroup for Animals asked citizens in Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain for their views on animals in circuses:

  • 68% agree that the use of wild animals in circuses is cruel and that wild animals should not be used for public entertainment.
  • 62% agree that the European Union should ban the use of all wild animals in circuses.

A Europe-wide ban is needed – due to the nature of traveling circuses, wild animals may still be transported across member states where bans exist. These movements pose severe threats to public safety and animal welfare.

Eurogroup for Animals’ report ‘Wild Animals in Circuses: Problems, Risks and Solutions’ provides further evidence and offers solutions to support a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. ADI helped contribute data and evidence to the report.

The updated report, originally published in 2017, details 24 years of incidents involving the public and wild animals in EU circuses. It includes an overview of current laws and restrictions on the use of circus animals in EU member states, with emphasis on the enforcement of those laws.

The report also includes a list of animal rescue centres and sanctuaries that are appropriate to assist with the rescue of circus animals once bans are implemented. Read the report here.

You can help:

  • Join the nearly one million citizens who have signed a petition asking the European Commission to ban wild animals in circuses across the EU.
  • Add your voice to the campaign call on Twitter, using hashtags #EUStopCircusSuffering and #stopcircussuffering. Please tag @animaldefenders


  1. Amy Niles · 2 March 2021 at 10:57a

    Please, please please STOP using elephants and all wild animals for your so-called “Entertainment. Forcing an animals to do stupid tricks for humans is inhumane. We now have TV, the Internet, all kinds of entertainment that does not involve forcing these poor creatures to suffer. In the wild, elephants form family groups, they mourn for their dead, they walk up to 40 miles per day, and many more things that are deprived of them. Please, I beg you, STOP USING WILD ANIMALS (Elephants esp) in your “Acts.” Not being allowed to walk their normal amount causes painful arthritis in their feet. Standing on concrete causes this. They are stuck doing mundane, repetative “tricks” that are NOT NATURAL. These animals do not deserve to suffer their whole lives. They are even FORCED to perform while SICK and/or injured. Please have compassion and empathy for Gods beautiful, caring creatures. Let them be happy. Let them be an elephant.

  2. Dave and Rita Cross · 2 March 2021 at 10:57a

    Abusing and exploiting elephants or any other animals is not “entertainment”! People-themed entertainment is what the public enjoys and wants to support! Your bottom line will improve as you retire animals and add human acts. The public is more aware than ever of the abuse animals endure from trainers to behave in a certain way. The animals do not enjoy any of this and are suffering before, during and after the show! We greatly appreciate your serious consideration of our request! These are God’s creatures that He wants respected and protected from harm!!

  3. Hilary smyth · 2 March 2021 at 10:57a

    We did it in Ireland in 2018 after years of campaigning !! Helped by the ADI INFO leaflets and posters etc.
    The rest of Europe can too!

  4. Savvas · 2 March 2021 at 10:57a

    Disgusting humans

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.