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Circuses - Origin and destination of the animals

Animals affected

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






As for the source of these animals, we can say that species like lions, tigers, giraffes, crocodiles, hippos, etc. mostly come from zoos or from other circuses which breed these species in captivity in order to have a ready supply of these animals. But here we should make an important point about one specific species, the elephant. The breeding of these creatures in captivity is almost impossible, success is minimum as elephants in captivity show many signs of emotional and physical health problems, and the mortality rate of its offspring is extremely high. That’s why most elephants that we see in circuses and zoos have been captured from their natural habitat.

Once the animals’ “useful life” has ended, in other words, when they start getting old and can no longer perform or in some cases when the circus reinvents itself, most of the creatures are transferred to zoos, where they die. Some end up dying at an early age due to the multiple health problems that a life in the circus has brought them.

Our action

At the state level

Through InfoCIRCOS, a coalition made up of the organisations ANDA, 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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