Save Circus Animals From Abuse

Target: Tom Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Goal: Prohibit circuses from cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.

Circus acts are cruel and torturous to animals. Almost 96 percent of a circus animal’s life is spent in chains and cages. They travel nearly 11 months a year in non-climate-controlled boxcars and trailers. Tigers, who fear fire, are forced to jump through flaming hoops. Trainers use tight collars, electric prods, whips, muzzles, and other torture devices to force animal submission.

For circus animals, life is monotonous, boring, stressful, and full of pain. Continuous captivity in confined spaces causes wild animals to exhibit stress, pace, or even mutilate themselves. Circus animals are usually ripped from their mothers at young ages, causing distress for both the mother and infant.

Circus animals are supposed to be protected and humanely treated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Despite this, every major circus that exploits animals has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for violating the minimum standards of care–yet they stay in business, further brutalizing and exploiting animals. Most circus venues are only occasionally inspected for compliance with the AWA. Callous and brutal training sessions are never inspected for AWA compliance.

Some circuses claim to support education and wildlife conservation. Elephants in circuses are shackled with a length of barely five feet of chain. In the wild, elephants’ territories are as vast as 2,300 square miles. Additionally, using animals in entertainment allows captive breeding programs to thrive. Conditions at captive breeding facilities fare only slightly better than life in a circus.

In the past, people had no access to wild animal exposure. Today, with internet access and wildlife video cameras, anyone can watch wild animals in their natural habitats exhibiting natural behaviors. Circuses claim they only train animals to perform natural behaviors. When has a bear in the wild ever worn a costume and spun a giant ball with its legs? When do elephants in the wild ever walk on their hind legs or balance on their heads? Wild animals in their natural habitats spend their lives looking for food, sleeping, or caring for their young. Circuses which are animal-free do exist and are a far better entertainment alternative.

By signing this petition, you will urge USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to enforce the AWA and prohibit the exploitation of circus animals. All circus animals should be retired to accredited sanctuaries where they can live their lives as naturally as possible. Please save the lives of all circus animals in the United States.


Dear Secretary Vilsack,

Every major circus in the United States has been cited for failing to provide minimum standards of care for their inhumane treatment of animals under the Animal Welfare Act. Despite these numerous citations, circuses stay in business and continue to exploit animals for “entertainment” and provide cruel and inhumane care.

Circuses without animal acts, such as Cirque du Soleil and others, are able to provide entertainment without causing harm to animals or ripping them from their mothers at a young age. Wildlife cameras in natural habitats provide reality-based education on animal natural behaviors and better promote conservation.

Animals deserve our protection and care. We, the undersigned, urge you to ban the exploitation of all animals in all circuses under the Animal Welfare Act. All animals being held captive in circuses need to be retired to accredited sanctuaries. Please stop the torture and save circus animals from abuse.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Andrea Izzotti

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One Comment

  1. Stop cirkus

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