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Ban Circuses with Animals in Denmark

This petition had 1,627 supporters

Wild animals suffer in Danish circuses 


Several years ago, Denmark banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Despite the ban, elephants (both Asian and African), zebras, sea lions, camels and alpacas are still used in several Danish circuses.


The living conditions for these animals are horrific and far from natural. Forced to perform without breaks during the circus season, they are 'broken' mentally and sometimes even forced to perform despite illnesses.  The vehicles used for transporting the animals are often small and uncomfortable causing more distress. Furthermore large animals like elephants are chained up without any form of mental stimulation and as a result they get bored, stressed and frustrated. They live in conditions that are unnatural for wild animals; far from their natural habitats and food sources, and social settings. For instance elephants live in large groups in the wild. Many of the animals also come from entirely different physical conditions making it hard for their bodies to cope with the harsh weathers of Northern Europe.


The Danish TV-channel TV2 has recently told the story of an elephant from Circus Benneweis, who has been performing throughout the summer despite a visible abscess on her hip. The elephant, who is one of the circus’ three elephants, suffers from a discharging and infected abscess on its left hip. The information is derived from the Danish free newspaper metroXpress who has asked several veterinarians to comment on the case. “The abscess on this elephant is clearly infected and will consequently feel discomfort and possible pain from this”, says Mads Bertelsen who works as a vet at Copenhagen Zoo. His assessment is shared by another vet who states that the elephant should be kept calm and treated with pain relieving medicine to allow the abscess to heal. All the veterinarians agree that the abscess has likely taken months to get to its present stage and will consequently also take long to heal. Henrik Hagbard, who has treated elephants in Zimbabwe, says: “It is not unlikely that it will take months for an abscess of this size to heal”. But as Mads Bertelsen comments: “Even though the elephants are treated well, they never have a day off, even when they are sick.”, and this is an issue that has been witnessed at Circus Benneweis before.


Nine years ago an elephant named Tutti was made perform despite the fact that she was on antibiotics and a veterinarian had recommended that she’d rest instead of performing. The circus still made her perform, and on a fatal night another elephant, Mickey, who was performing with her got so distressed, that he threw a small metal stool towards the audience and ran out of the circus, as to make people aware of his friend’s illness. Tutti died the following night.


Danish law The use of wild animals in entertainment has been banned by Danish law since 1962 but unfortunately the law allows for exceptions, typically allowing the use of elephants, sea lions and horses in circuses. The circus industry justifies the use of wild animals in circuses by claiming that they have been domesticated through the years, and that animals used in circuses are treated well. The case of untreated elephants performing in Danish circuses speaks of a different truth. By signing this petition you are helping to create awareness about the ill conditions of wild animals in circuses in Denmark, and agreeing to the statement that wild animals simply don’t belong in entertainment.


You can impact the case further by not supporting circuses that use wild animals in their show or expressing your concern to circuses nearby you that have wild animals performing.


Thank you for your time and support!  


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