In circuses, trainers abuse tigers, bears, elephants, and other animals daily and force them to perform stupid tricks for “entertainment.” If this fact isn’t sad enough to make you want to stay away from the circus, here are 10 more reasons why the circus is the “‘Cruelest Show on Earth.”

1. Elephants are beaten with bullhooks—sharp instruments that resemble a fireplace poker—repeatedly, sometimes until they bleed, in order to force them to perform dangerous, uncomfortable tricks, such as standing on their heads or on small platforms. Watch undercover video of how elephants are “trained” just moments before going on stage.

2. Many young animals are forced to grow up in captivity around humans in an unnatural, stressful environment.

elephants circus

3. Babies are often separated from their mothers and trained using whips, ropes, bullhooks, electric prods, and other weapons as well as food deprivation.


4. Big cats are whipped or beaten in order to “train” them to be afraid of the trainer and not attack.
leopard in circus

5. When animals aren’t in training or performing, they spend most of their lives in isolation. They are chained or caged in small areas, with barely enough space for them to turn around in. If you would never let your own animal companion live like this, then why support the circus?

lion circus

6. Animals are forced to travel in boxcars or trailers for up to 100 hours straight! These cars and trailers are cramped, unsanitary, and poorly ventilated. Animals have even died when temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees.

elephant boxcar circus

7. Animals in captivity suffer from psychological problems because of the unnatural and stressful environment. Some common signs of this mental distress include swaying back and forth, head-bobbing, pacing, and sometimes even self-mutilation.

white tiger circus

8. These animals will never experience anything that’s natural and important to them, such as running, playing, jumping, or socializing with their mates. Most of them will never see their family again.

bears circus

9. When animals fight back against humans, they end up hurting people and themselves. The animals are usually shot and killed after these tragedies.

ringling elephants

10. Although there are laws regarding animal care in circuses, they establish meager, inadequate standards that often aren’t enforced or are ignored. Many of these circuses have been cited multiple times but remain in business.

elephants chained circus

How can you help animals used in circuses?

1. Remember that every ticket purchased for the circus is directly supporting the pain and suffering of these animals. Never go to any circus that uses animals, and encourage your friends and family to stay away, too.


2. Spread the word.

ringling protest

Pledge to boycott the circus, join the peta2, and sign up for text alerts. We’ll notify you about demonstrations in your area and other ways you can help animals. If you’re over 22, you can also join PETA’s Action Team.

3. Share this article on Facebook.

peta2 circus pledge

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