The Truth About Circus Animals

**Warning, this article may include graphic details and may not be suitable for younger children**   Have you been to […]

**Warning, this article may include graphic details and may not be suitable for younger children**


Have you been to a circus and saw a few animals in the show? 


What happens to these animals?


Are they taken care of?


These are some of the questions that we will be answering in this article, exploring how animals were treated in the circus. 


First off, What kind of animals would you see in a circus?  You can see tigers, elephants, horses, and other animals. What do they do in the circus? They do tricks to entertain the public like stand on their heads, jump through a hoop on fire, balance on pedestals and other tricks as well. How do they get the animals to do tricks? The animal trainers in the circus abuse the animals in order for them to comply with the order in comparison to true sanctuaries who do a positive reinforcement with the animals. The animal trainers in circuses would use force in the form of whips, ball hooks, tight collars, muzzles, and electric collars. Sometimes these trainers would threaten starvation or even punishment.


Living conditions:


The animals used in a circus do not have very good living conditions. USDA only required an enclosure big enough for the animal to be able to stand up and turn around, and even less for traveling. While the circuses travel quite frequently, once the animal is in their cages the handlers are only required to let them out once every 60 days. 

What kind of dangers could these animals have to the public?


Being caged for a long time can cause issues for these animals, since these animals are constantly in very small places. They don’t  get to be the wild animals they are intended to be. They get stressed out and start to be aggressive. When the animals get aggressive they can hurt or kill humans if they get loose. These animals also want to get free which causes some instances in circuses where animals get loose from their trainers and cause harm to people or property. The animals in circuses get little or no veterinarian care which can cause serious health issues to the animals. Some of these animals can carry diseases which can be harmful for humans if they get loose. 


What is being done for these animals? 


In 2017 lawmakers introduced a Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act. As of today in 2023, this act has been introduced into The House of Representatives. It might take a few years to get this passed as it took 10 years to pass The Big Cat Public Safety Act. This act will prevent circuses from using exotic and wild animals in their performances. They would only use human performers. 


What can you do to help?

Educate your friends and family about the dangers that could happen at the circus. Raise funds to help save these animals from performing circus acts not only in the United States but overseas as well. Start a proposal to stop traveling circuses with animal performers stopping at your town.


Circus – Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary

Animals In The Circus | Born Free USA Animal Advocacy

Ringling Circus Is Returning. Lions, Tigers and Dumbo Are Not. – The New York Times (

Circus Animal Cruelty • MSPCA-Angell

11 Facts About Circus Animal Abuse |

Ringling’s End Could Mean Freedom For All U.S. Circus Animals (

Circuses | PETA

Elephants escape circus in St. Louis, Missouri, damage cars | CNN

Text – H.R.5999 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act of 2021 | | Library of Congress

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