Landmark Video: Chinese Circus Trainers Beat, Chain, and Kick Animals

First-Ever Exposé of 'Circus Capital of the World' Reveals Abusive Training Methods, Scared Bear Cubs, Sick Baby Tigers, and More

For Immediate Release:
July 18, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

Suzhou, Anhui Province, China – PETA Asia has just released the first-ever eyewitness investigation documenting shockingly cruel training methods, unabated violence, and decrepit living conditions for animals in circuses in the town of Suzhou, where alone some 300 circuses are located. PETA Asia’s video footage, which was recorded over the last year at 10 different circuses and training facilities, shows struggling baby bears chained by the neck and forced to stand on their hind legs for hours as well as being bullied into balancing on seesaws and walking across parallel bars. Big cats pace incessantly inside cramped barren cages. Trainers drag, yank, hit, jab, whip, and kick the animals—including monkeys—to make them comply. Some animals become withdrawn, while others scream and frantically try to escape.

“Wild animals do not understand or want to perform these abnormal, meaningless, and often painful tricks, but they must do them over and over again or risk being beaten—or worse,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on kind people everywhere to refuse to attend animal circuses, whether at home or while traveling in China or elsewhere around the world.”

When they are not being trained or forced to perform, animals in circuses are routinely restrained by chains or ropes or locked inside cages, giving them no choice but to eat, drink, sleep, and relieve themselves all in the same place. Most bears in these unnatural conditions develop abnormal behavior, including rocking, walking in endless circles, and biting on the cage bars. Every circus visited by PETA Asia’s eyewitness lacked adequate food, drinking water, housing, and veterinary care.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that cramped enclosures and abusive training techniques are not limited to Chinese circuses. Any circus that uses animals controls them with violence and confines them to cages, trailers, or boxcars. Ringling Bros., for instance, whips lions and tigers, and other U.S. circuses still force bears to ride bicycles and balance on barrels.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind