10 Things You Didn't Know About Big Cats in the Circus

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Posted March 18, 2015 by Hannah Healy

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has announced that it plans to phase out the use of elephants in its performances. That’s wonderful news! But what about the other animals kept in tiny cages and forced to perform dumb tricks through the threat of violence?

Here are 10 reasons why big cats do NOT belong in circuses:

1. In circuses, big cats are often forced to live in cramped cages. That means they eat, drink, sleep, and even poop and pee in the same small space. Can you imagine going to the bathroom and sleeping in the same place?


2. Tigers are naturally semi-nocturnal and love water. In circuses, they’re forced to perform in the daytime and denied access to any kind of watering hole.

Lions and Tigers Standing

3. They’re trained through punishment and food deprivation.


4. In the wild, cubs grow up with loving mothers. But lions and tigers in circuses are torn away from their mothers shortly after birth, causing emotional pain to both mothers and cubs.


5. As a result of captivity, many big cats suffer psychologically. The stressful, unnatural environment sometimes causes them to pace back and forth and even mutilate themselves.


6. Tigers are solitary animals, but circuses ignore this fact and make them live in unnatural and often incompatible groups, sometimes resulting in fights and injuries.

Big Cats in a Row

7. Tigers have an innate fear of fire, yet they are beaten into jumping through burning hoops. Imagine how terrifying circus trainers must be if tigers would rather jump through FIRE than face punishment!


8. Circuses easily get away with routine abuse because no government agency monitors training sessions. Investigative footage shows that big cats are dragged by heavy chains around their necks and hit with sticks.

Tiger Threatened With Stick

9. Big cats are often confined to transport cages that are BARELY larger than their own bodies. The only relief that many are given from this confinement is during their brief performances, when they are subjected to whippings and loud crowds instead.


10. In the United States, as a result of keeping big cats in captivity, 126 captive cats and 23 humans have DIED since 1990. More than 255 humans have been injured.

Dangerous Performance

The only way to end the abuse is to remove ALL animals from circuses now! You can help by boycotting any circus that uses animals and choosing to patronize animal-free ones instead. You can also help animals trapped in circuses by downloading the free peta2 iPhone app and taking action:


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  • Profile photo of yoshigirl

    4 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    poor creatures! just telling you….if my mom finds out (she loves tigers) she will get really upset

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