Help End Circus Cruelty Towards Exotic Animals

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Around the world, the plight of animals in circuses is increasingly heard. National, regional and local governments in at least 30 countries have already banned the use of exotic or all animals in circuses. An increasing number of Australian councils are taking part in this trend, but the Australian Federal and State Governments policies are failing these animals.

The requirements in the — mostly voluntary — guidelines for the keeping of animals in circuses in Australia are far below what is generally required for the same species kept in zoos and are totally inadequate to protect their welfare. Lions in New South Wales for example are granted an enclosure of at least 300 m² if they live in a zoo, in a circus they are only entitled to 6 hours a day in an 'exercise area' of 20 m². For the remaining 18 hours they can be locked away in beast wagons.

Despite claims to the contrary, trainers frequently use excessive and abusive training methods to establish and maintain the control necessary to make animals perform tricks. Although positive reinforcement is indeed part of a trainer' s repertoire, it is by no means his/her only tool, and is not enough to guarantee control of a four-ton elephant in the circus ring. Wild animals used in circuses are routinely subjected to months on the road confined to small, barren cages, often in extreme temperatures. This, of course, does not allow the animals to exhibit any natural or instinctual behaviour. After the show the animals are locked back in their small cages, barely able to turn around, and shipped to the next town.

We would like to see our local council in future participate in the boycott of circus' that use exotic animals as part of their show.