Stop Circus Suffering

Talking points – contacting elected officials

The following are talking points for constituent calls, emails and letters to local councils and state legislatures

  • As a constituent, I am asking you to support legislation to protect wild animals in circuses.
  • There is a growing public concern about the treatment of wild and exotic animals abused in traveling circuses, as evidenced by thousands of letters generated to the USDA, Congress, and the President. Americans are becoming increasingly aware that circus animals suffer from violent training techniques and severe confinement which are unavoidable due to the constraints of constant travel on the road.

Animal Welfare

  • Traveling circuses cannot meet the physical, psychological or behavioral needs of wild animals, due to severe confinement, physical and social deprivation, long periods of time in transporters, with brutal control methods and physical violence.
  • Animals are forced to perform tricks through physical violence, fear, intimidation, emotional deprivation and withholding of food and/or water. 

Public Health and Safety

  • Keeping stressed, large and dangerous wild animals close to the public in lightweight, temporary enclosures has proven disastrous. Workers and members of the public have been killed and maimed; lions, tigers and elephants have all escaped.
  • It is estimated that around 12% of Asian and 2% of African elephants in North America have tuberculosis (TB), a disease transmissible from elephants to humans. 


  • Enforcement of animal welfare legislation and local ordinances is fraught with difficulties due to the transient nature of traveling circuses. By the time evidence is gathered and prepared, the circus has often moved on. The practical difficulties of compliance, inspections and associated time and costs, justifies a restriction. 


  • Circuses must change with the times. Human only circuses are thriving. Cirque du Soleil now has 19 shows in 271 cities, generating an estimated $810 million a year. Whereas the wild animal traveling show, Piccadilly Circus, recently canceled performances across Southern California due to poor ticket sales.
  • In 2012, Cirque du Soleil appeared eight times in the top ranking international shows alongside Madonna and Lady Gaga world tours (Top 50 Highest Earning World Tours in 2012). Not a single animal circus made the list.
  • Circus workers perform multiple roles; staff can be retrained, so jobs are not lost. ADI observations of the 2012 Ringling show in Los Angeles revealed wild animals formed just 13 minutes of the two hour performance. Circus Vargas removed their animal acts and the business continues. Surveys have shown that a decline in animal circuses can be matched by a rise in circuses with human performers.
  • 34 countries around the world have adopted national legislation prohibiting or restricting the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses, with hundreds of local bans in place worldwide – over 200 in the UK, and hundreds in Europe and South America, as well as Asia.
  • Please work within your legislature to prevent wild animals from suffering in traveling circuses here in the United States.

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