More and more people are learning that big cats and elephants suffer in circuses, but bears are also abused in them. Like tigers, elephants, and lions, bears don’t choose to perform, and they’re treated just as terribly as the other animals are. Here are six reasons why bears don’t belong in the circus:

1. They’re forced to stand on their hind legs for hours—if they can’t do it, they risk choking and hanging themselves.

A PETA Asia observer visited 10 circuses and training facilities in Suzhou, China, and learned that trainers chain bear cubs by the necks and tether them to a wall to “teach” them to walk on their hind legs. They’re forced to remain upright, sometimes for hours.

Even if they’re exhausted, they’re forced to hold themselves up—otherwise, they can choke or hang themselves.

We’re sure that you’ve seen video footage of bears in their natural environment. Walking on their hind legs is an extremely unnatural behavior for them.

2. Trainers make them perform mindless, uncomfortable tricks out of fear.

Trainers force bears to jump over objects, walk upright on their hind legs, and perform other confusing, tedious tricks. Some cry out during the “training exercises” for these stunts.

3. They’re in a constant state of distress when “performing.”

While you may know a human who can easily walk while doing a handstand, this position is unnatural for bears. Even so, they have to perform such tricks out of fear.

During a Tangier Shrine Circus performance, an attendee filmed disturbing video footage of trainers pulling a bear by a muzzle while the animal was walking upright. The bear urinated—in obvious distress—when the trainers made the frightened animal to walk on his or her front legs.

4. Their families are torn apart by circuses and forced to live inside cramped cages.

circus bear cub in cage

Circuses all over the world tear apart families. Cubs are taken away from their mothers and forced to be in close proximity to humans. When they aren’t enduring awful training exercises or stage performances, they’re left in tiny cages and have little room to move freely.

For animals who normally have a large home range in the wild, a cage is lonely, stressful, and unnatural.

5. Circus conditions often cause them to become depressed and develop severe psychological problems.

Bears in the wild roam on home ranges that can encompass hundreds of miles. With no freedom or space to move around, most of those in circuses become severely depressed. They’re normally energetic animals who need to satisfy their curiosity by exploring their surroundings and searching for their next meal.

Bears trapped in circuses frequently start pacing continuously—a sign of severe psychological distress called zoochosis.

6. No sentient being wants to be trapped in a circus.

bears in the circus

Like all living, sentient beings, bears are meant to be free. No one should have to live in a cage and perform meaningless tricks for the sake of “entertainment.”

What You Can Do to Help Bears

Pledge never to visit any circus that uses animals, and urge your friends and family members to stay away from them, too! There are so many marvelous circuses with only willing human performers—who choose to learn stunts. Bears in circuses don’t have a choice about performing. With your help, we can end this cruelty.