How animals live in circuses

Due to its itinerant nature, no circus, even with the best intentions, can offer wild animals conditions, neither physical nor social, that guarantee a minimum level of well-being. In this post we compare the natural behavior of animals with their conditions in circuses exposing the health and psychological problems they suffer in these facilities. More information at


The circus performances with reptiles causes anxiety to these animals . Circuses can not offer these delicate animals the possibility of behaving according to their natural instincts. Reptiles react very sensitively to all kinds of vibrations and temperature changes and are therefore totally inappropriate for frequent transport.


In Nature: Baboons of species normally kept in circuses live in social groups of 20 to 200 individuals. These primates are distributed over great distances and their territory can cover up to 30 km. Frequent problems: Baboons can be carriers of STLV a retrovirus potentially transmissible to humans. The disease caused in non-human primates by this virus is quite severe. The transmission of the virus to humans is possible (mainly, but not only, by bites and scratches), but the actual zoonotic potential of this disease is still not quantifiable. Given the similarity of the STLV virus to the human HTLV virus (human T lymphotropic virus) responsible for a malignant and fatal lymphoma, infected animals should be handled with extreme care and attention.


In nature: Rhinos feed on more than 30 different varieties of herbs as well as aquatic plants and tree twigs. They are solitary animals although sometimes they live in small groups and cover territories of about 20 km2. Water is vital for these animals. They usually sharpen the horns as well as wallow in the mud or take sand baths.In the circus: All rhinoceros species are in serious danger of extinction, only for this reason their tenure in circuses is absolutely unacceptable. Moreover, due to their social and biological characteristics (rhinoceroses are solitary animals that inhabit large territories) it is impossible for a circus to maintain these animals in a manner appropriate to their individual needs.

Seals and sea lions

In nature: these animals are specialized aquatic predators, gregarious and some species live in large groups. They eat a variety of fish, squid, crustaceans and starfish, some also eat penguins. All species are very active physically and swimmers are very fast. California seals submerge for 15 minutes at depths of 100m. Although some species are sedentary, others change their habitat according to the season. All have a very marked game and exploration behavior. In circuses: these animals usually live in isolation or in pairs and in very small spaces with limited access to water.

Camels, Dromedaries, Vicunas and Lamas

In nature: Dromedaries live in permanent communities and in desert or semi-desert areas. As well as camels, they live up to 40 years and adapted to life in warm areas and can travel up to 200 km a day, although the average is 30-40 km. The lamas live in meadows and shrublands between 2, 300 and 4, 000 m in height. In circuses : these animals should have access to move freely through an outer space of 300 m2 (plus an additional 50m2 per additional animal) for at least 8 hours a day. They should be able to take refuge in the wind and the cold, the soil should be of earth or sand and should be offered branches to occupy their interest. These animals should not be tied and should be housed at least in pairs.


In nature: Zebras are social animals, which, even in large herds, maintain small groups whose family ties are highly durable. Their territories are between 30 to 600 km2. Their defense reaction is the flight and when they are cornered, the legs. In the circuses: They are often observed housed in small blocks or tied or alone. They can be observed performing stereotyped movements of rocking. They should have access to an outdoor area of ​​at least 150 m2 (plus 25m2 per additional animal) for at least 8 hours a day. They should have a soil or sand floor to take dust baths and have branches as environmental enrichment. You should avoid keeping them tied and offer visual barriers


In nature, these animals are agile climbers and spend most of their time alone and on the move in search of food. The territory of a female is between 3 and 40 km2. In the Circuses: In captivity, bears usually show stereotyped behavior, especially when they live in small and empty fences or when they spend their nights indoors. They live in inhospitable conditions without swimming pools, climbing structures, research and play or natural substrate to dig. In captivity, these animals need at least fences without roofs, visual barriers and enrichment in the way they offer food.


In nature: They are highly social animals that live in groups of between 2 and 20 individuals. They are very gregarious animals and are active at night, while during the day they rest or relate to others. Before giving birth, the lionesses leave the group for a few weeks. They live in territories of between 26 to 226 km2. In circuses: Along with tigers, and other carnivores with extensive territories, lions are the animals that show more stress levels and psychological problems in captivity. The close presence of other species, such as zebras, horses, camels and goats, species that would be their prey, is also stressful. Common problems: Like other big cats, these carnivores in captivity exhibit stereotyped, self-destructive and abnormal behaviors. They tend to suffer fibrous osteodystrophy due to mineral imbalances in the diet and gastroenteritis, among others due to stress due to disturbances such as noise from traffic, the public or music.

  • From Infocircos, we recommend that you never go to a circus that uses animals. There are many other shows to have fun without anyone having to suffer for it.