Animals in Entertainment | Winnipeg Humane Society
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Animals in Entertainment

Winnipeg is now a circus-free zone … at least where exotic animals are concerned.

We believe there is inherent cruelty involved in the training, confinement and constant travel these animals endure. As well, they are often depicted in a disrespectful manner by engaging in unnatural behavior and performing tricks.

On July 17, 2013, the City of Winnipeg passed the Responsible Pet Ownership By-Law that includes a ban on exotic animals in circuses. This ban was the culmination of over two decades of work by The WHS in promoting the banning of wild animals in circuses. Winnipeg has now joined the growing list of 27 municipalities in Canada that have banned circuses.

The circus “Beast Wagon”

Apart from the time spent performing in the ring, many circus animals spend their lives in tiny transport cages. Sometimes the cages are so small the tigers and bears can barely turn around. They must perform all their life functions (eating, sleeping, urinating and defecating) in this same small area.

Life in chains

Circus animals that are not confined in cages are usually kept tethered or shackled. Elephants are routinely kept shackled and many bears’ ankles are scarred from lifelong leg chains.

Life on the road

Circus animals suffer terribly from constant travel, often over long distances in poorly ventilated trucks and trailers. The long drives force them to stand in their own urine and feces, which most animals would never choose to do. When one circus has ended its tour, the animals are frequently contracted out to another circus, continuing the misery of their life on the road.

Harsh or abusive training methods

Offensive training methods are often required to control animals and coerce them into performing tricks. According to former Hollywood animal trainer Pat Derby, “To get an animal to perform on cue requires cruelty. A dog does not want to jump through a hoop. A bear doesn’t want to waltz”.

Most training is done behind closed doors so it is impossible to know exactly what has gone on.

Wildlife conservation: endangered species

What are we learning about a tiger that jumps through a hoop of fire or an elephant that wears a skirt and dances? These are not the natural behaviours of these magnificent creatures. They are being depicted in quite disrespectful ways. In a day and age when we have access to thrilling video footage of these animals in their natural habitat, it cannot be justified to use animals in this way.

Nothing is ever truly “for free”

Step right up and get your tickets to “The Greatest Show on Earth”. It’s so “great” that when the circus comes through Winnipeg, the organizers give away the tickets to fill the seats. What is worrisome is the fact that thousands of free tickets are pushed into the hands of children through our local school boards and individual schools. Why are parents not questioning the fact that schools are promoting animal cruelty under the guise of providing entertainment for children? Read more…

Take action

You can choose not to support these or other entertainment events that use wild/exotic animals by not purchasing tickets. Let the circus organizer know why you are not attending and let them know whether you would attend if it were an “all human” circus. Support initiatives in your community to ban wild/exotic animals from being brought to town for entertainment events.

More information

Global Action Network: