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Animals affected

Primates, Reptiles, Lions, Tigers, Elephants, Dromedaries, Hippos, Giraffes, Camels, Horses, Zebras, Dogs






The history of the circus dates back to the ancient civilisations. For many years animals have been part of circus shows They have been made to wear costumes, they have been caricatured, ridiculed, subjugated and transformed into “animal artists”.

Animals in the circus, both in Spain and in other places, are forced to do things and get into postures which are not appropriate to their species and physiology. This provokes serious problems such as physiological responses to stress, emotional and physical disorders, abnormal behaviour, health problems, etc. These activities lack any educative value as they do not show the true nature of the animals in question.

The travelling nature of the circus makes it impossible to provide adequate surroundings and social groups for the animals. They are forced to live in small spaces such as cages or trailers, chained up and always on the move.

In 2017 there are 400 towns free from circuses with wild animals throughout Spain.

The use of wild animals for entertainment also makes for serious problems regarding their training. Wild species, which are obviously not naturally adapted to living with and having contact with humans, cannot be trained based on positive reinforcement, as is the case with domestic animals. This means it is necessary to rely on violent or abusive techniques (such as the premature separation of mothers and their offspring) in order to be able to control them. In some cases they even go so far as sedating the animals or maiming them.

As it is impossible to control the instincts of a wild animal, any kind of training or interaction with them also implies risks to people (both to circus workers and to the audience).

In Spain there is no public registry of circuses, nor of the animals kept by them, which means the exact number of registered circuses is unknown. Also unknown is the number of visitors they receive, the tours they do, where they set up or even the animals traded between circuses. 


Our action

At the state level

Through InfoCIRCOS, a coalition made up of the organisations ANDA, AAP, AnimaNaturalis, Born Free Foundation and FAADA. It was founded in order to protect all wild animals used in circus shows, both in Spain and in other European countries.

  • In areas where there are still circuses with animals, we lobby local government so that they declare the area to be “free from circuses with wild animals”.
  • We offer advice to political parties, organisations and private individuals who are interested in promoting a ban on the use of animals in circuses.
  • We call on the competent authorities (Seprona) to carry out inspections of  circuses in order to check that all the animals are legal and the conditions they are subjected to follow the legislation of animal protection of the different autonomous regions. We also call on them to ensure the enforcement of the laws on the use of potentially dangerous animals, animal trading laws (CITES), etc.
  • We keep citizens informed and aware of the problem areas of having animals in circuses.
  • We put pressure on town councils when a circus performing in their area violates a law. We ask to see all the official paperwork required for the circus to set up in that area.
  • We give talks in schools on the problems involved in the use of wild and domestic animals in the circus.
  • We help rescue illegal or abused animals which have been seized, and relocate them to rescue centres and/or sanctuaries.


At European level

  • Via the coalition of European animal welfare organisations ENDCAP, active since 2006 and made up of 20 organisations from 17 different European countries. They are working to improve conditions for wild animals which are held in captivity.
  • We work with other professionals in Europe to identify solid arguments which support the ban on using wild animals in circuses.
  • We put together technical reports in order to bring to light the problem areas which the different species in the circus develop.
  • We lobby the European Commission and MEPs so that they become aware of the problems of animal well-being involved in these activities, as well as the growing rejection to animals in circuses by society. 
  • From the coalition we support the national bans on the use of wild animals in circuses.
  • We bring to light the inconsistency of the use of animals listed in CITES in the circus.
  • We carry out awareness campaigns among citizens of different European countries on the problems with having wild animals in the circus.


What can you do?

  • Choose not to go to circuses which have animals, there are alternatives such as musicals, theatre and even circuses which don’t use animals. There are famous circuses with a very high standard, such as the Circ du Solei.
  • Let your friends and family know about the problem of animals in the circus.
  • Distribute our posters (lionchimpanzeeseal) and leaflets “Circuses are no fun for animals”.
  • Ask for our information material by writing to: circos@infocircos.org
  • Use our material to organise protests and/or demonstrations.
  • Collect signatures and present them to the mayor to ask him/her not to allow access of circuses with animals into your town.
  • Ask schools to tell children the truth about animals in the circus.


Other sources



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