Victory! UniverSoul Circus Drops Animal Acts

For Immediate Release:
September 18, 2023

David Perle 202-483-7382


Champagne corks are popping at PETA as the group just confirmed that UniverSoul Circus—which used animal acts involving zebras, camels, and other wild and exotic animals in its shows for decades—has now joined the ranks of animal-free circuses. The victory follows years of polite appeals and vigorous protests from PETA, e-mails from well over 100,000 of its members and supporters, and great ads featuring celebrities like TLC’s Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas against the circus’s exploitation of animals.

atlanta activist nikki ford targets universoul circusChilli Vertical Ad

Top: A PETA supporter painted as a tiger protests UniverSoul’s animal acts. Bottom: Chilli poses in an anti-circus ad. Credit: PETA

“UniverSoul’s decision to stop exploiting animals sends a message to industry holdouts that cruelty doesn’t belong under the big top in the 21st century,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “PETA thanks UniverSoul for joining Ringling Bros. and other circuses that have recognized growing public disgust at the cruelty involved in training, caging, and chaining wild animals and encourages everyone to support circuses that feature only willing human performers.”

Federal records obtained by PETA showed that numerous animal welfare violations occurred during tours by UniverSoul, including denying a limping tiger veterinary care, denying elephants foot care, and locking big cats in cramped cages 24/7. Animal control officers had observed wounded camels, an injured zebra, elephants with bruised feet, and an elephant with a wound on his ankle. Eyewitness video also revealed that a camel was punched while being used for rides. Additionally, zebras forced to perform with UniverSoul had escaped multiple times, running frantically through busy streets in Philadelphia and Oakland, California.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

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