The Horror Behind The Circus

Shocking footage has emerged of cases of animals being abused to please tourists across Europe after the abuse was filmed by investigators.


In one example, a wild bear is put on a skateboard, made to stand upright and pushed on a slide for circus audiences in the Czech Republic, despite looking sick and underfed, the researchers say.

In Germany footage shows elephants being made to sit on small chairs and stand on one leg after “brutal” behind-the-scenes training, it is claimed.

In Spain tigers are kept on chains for tourist selfies, while researchers found bears living in barren moats, also in the Czech Republic.

The practices are believed to also fuel the illegal wildlife trade by encouraging unregulated commercial breeding.

Researchers for global animal welfare organisation Four Paws filmed a brown bear made to perform tricks including riding a skateboard and dancing with a hula hoop for cheering crowds at the Czech Republic’s Cirkus Humberto.

Other shows featured lions, zebras and elephants, according to the witnesses, who said the conditions and displays were “far from the life the animals would have in the wild” and that their “ecological needs simply cannot be met”.

Cirkus Humberto says none of its animals is forced to do anything, that play stimulates their brains and that activist groups who “spread misinformation” whip up xenophobia against circus people. 

At a medieval festival in France, a muzzled bear on a leash performed on a stool and a slide, and wolves had to jump through hoops.

“The wolves look emaciated and seem stressed, while the bear appears visibly uncomfortable with the leash and muzzle,” said Kieran Harkin, of Four Paws.