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6 BIG Reasons Why Big Cats Don’t Belong in Circuses

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus made headlines when it phased out its cruel and dangerous elephant acts. However, many circuses, including Ringling, continue to exploit and abuse big cats, and, for those animals, there is no end in sight yet.

Here are six reasons why big cats do NOT belong in circuses:

1. In circuses, big cats are often forced to live in tiny, cramped cages.

Caged Tigers in Caravan

Circuses routinely cart animals from town to town in barren cages that deprive lions and tigers of opportunities to fulfill their basic needs to exercise, roam, socialize, forage, and play. Many big cats are forced to eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and urinate in the same place. The only relief that many are given from this nearly perpetual confinement is during their brief performances, when they are subjected to whippings and roaring crowds. As a result of captivity, many big cats are overweight, while others suffer psychologically. The stressful, unnatural environment can cause some to pace back and forth or even mutilate themselves.

2. Their maternal bond is broken.

Tiger in Cage

In the wild, young tigers grow up with their mothers, but animals used in circuses are often separated long before they would naturally part, causing emotional distress for both mothers and cubs.

3. Their basic social and physiological needs are denied.

Tigers are naturally semi-nocturnal and love the water. In circuses, they’re carted around and forced to perform in the daytime and denied access to any kind of watering hole.

Adult tigers are solitary animals, but circuses ignore this fact and make them live in unnatural and often incompatible groups, sometimes resulting in fights and injuries.

Caged White Tiger

4. They’re trained through punishment and food deprivation.

Trainer with Stick

Circuses easily get away with routine abuse because no government agency monitors training sessions. Trainers drag big cats by heavy chains around their necks and hit them with sticks.

5. Tigers are innately terrified of fire.

Yet, in many circus acts, they are forced to jump through burning hoops. In order to condition tigers to make these dangerous leaps, handlers must routinely punish animals who do not comply. Tigers will perform tricks like this only once the pain and fear of punishment have surpassed their instinctual fear of fire.

6. As a result of keeping big cats in captivity, 126 captive cats and 23 humans have DIED in the last 25 years.

Cats in Ring with Trainer

Also, more than 250 humans have been injured. And remember: These numbers are JUST in the United States and JUST since 1990.

Compassionate people everywhere are using their voices—and their wallets—to show circus promoters that animal abuse is NOT entertainment. Stand up for big cats, elephants, and all animals used in circuses by pledging to support only circuses that are animal-free and that use talented, willing human performers to thrill crowds.

Pledge Never to Go to a Circus That Uses Animals

Traveling circuses use billboards, commercials, and other promotions to advertise a good time for the whole family, but remember that circuses are no fun for the tigers, lions, elephants, and other animals who are forced to perform under the threat of sticks, bullhooks, whips, and electric prods. Subjected to beatings, isolation, and neglect, these animals will continue to languish and suffer at the hands of circus promoters for the sake of profit so long as people continue to pay admission fees.

Never forget: Every ticket funds cruelty to animals. Pledge never to go to a circus that uses animals now!

Full pledge text:
From the moment they're born, big cats, elephants, and other animals trapped in the circus are denied everything that is natural and important to them. I pledge not to support this cruelty and never to go to a circus that uses animals.
  
Pledge to never go to a circus that uses animals!
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