Circuses using fewer wild animals

20th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The number of circuses that stage performances with wild animals has more than halved in recent years. According to a report published by action group No Wild Animals in Circus Tents, over the past five years the number of performances with wild animals has dropped from 83 percent to 35 percent. Many of the circuses to ban wild animal performances are new ones.

The number of wild animals used in Dutch circuses has not fallen and still stands at 250. Many animals are hired from companies in Western and Eastern Europe. In addition to traditional wild animals, such as elephants, tigers and lions, circuses now also work with penguins, monkeys and giraffes. In 2010, circuses used over 30 different kinds of animals in their performances.

The action group warns that the animals' living conditions at circuses seriously affect their physical and mental well-being. They live in cramped cages, are subjected to continual training and performances and are frequently moved around on transports. The group is seeking a total ban on wild animals in circuses. Aside from the suffering that the animals experience, the group argues, using animals in circuses also sets the wrong example of how to treat and value them.

Each year, an average 70 circuses travel across the country. Over the past five years, the number of circuses has, however, increased. In addition, they are also giving more performances outside the circus season, which traditionally runs from the middle of March to the middle of October.

The publication of the report coincides with the screening, this Saturday evening, of "One Lucky Elephant" at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam IDFA. The documentary shows how a circus director in the United States increasingly becomes aware of the suffering of Flora, an elephant he has acquired 16 years earlier. In the end, he places Flora in a group of elephants that can meet some of the complex psychological and social needs of her species.

The action group brings together branches of several international animal welfare organisations, including the World Society for the Protection of Animals.


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