Wild animals in circuses

Based on this discussion EuroFAWC’s participants of the meeting in 2015 (Copenhagen) came to next statements regarding wild animals in circuses:

  •        In travelling circuses the safe confinement of certain of wild animals and the provision of adequate welfare facilities may be mutually exclusive creating the risk of either severely compromised animal welfare or serious safety issues for the public.
  •        Generally, animals must be able to express a series of behaviours specific to them, such as being able to exercise and have social interaction.
  •        When keeping animals, they should be able to express such behaviours in a sufficiently enriched environment.
  •        Due to the very specific situation of the travelling circuses, such as frequent transport, and limited space, such circuses are unable to guarantee proper housing at all times for the animals, and wild animals may be at particular risk.
  •        In addition, if the well-being of the animals is not satisfactory, the potential educational role of exhibiting these animals in public may be limited.
  •        Finally, unlike in earlier times, today there are many other ways to see and experience wild animals, e.g. zoos, television, the internet and travelling.


EuroFAWC therefore questions whether the traditional educational and entertainment value of displaying wild animals in travelling circuses is still justified in a modern society. The welfare concerns add to the doubt whether this tradition can be justified in a modern context.