Green Mountain Animal Defenders

Green Mountain Animal Defenders

Working to Protect the Well-Being of All Animals Since 1983

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Circuses and Animal Acts

The Fair is Coming to Town

We oppose the use of animals in any circus or animal act. In the name of entertainment, animals such as bears, elephants, lions, and tigers are made to perform silly and often dangerous tricks. Although the animals featured in such acts may appear to be enjoying themselves, the methods used to train the animals are often abusive. Training animals to perform tricks such as riding a bicycle, balancing on a ball, or jumping through rings of fire often involves the use of bullhooks, whips, and electric prods.

Evidence of such abuse:

The Truth Behind the Big Top (Humane Society of the United States)
Elephant Life in U.S. Circuses (In Defense of Animals)

Even when the animals are not performing, they suffer. Between shows, they often are shackled, chained, or caged in tiny, filthy enclosures. During transport between venues, they are confined in cramped, stuffy boxcars or semi-truck trailers. These abuses continue until the animals are no longer able to perform due to age or injury. At this point there is still no safe refuge for them as they may be killed or sold into the exotic animal trade, where the animals face yet additional threats to their well-being. In addition, there is inherent risk in any public animal performance because an animal may escape or lash out. Such incidents can be deadly for the trainer, the audience, and the animals. Accounts of accidents, attacks, abuse, and other incidents at circuses around the world can be found at Animal Incidents at the Circus.

What Can You Do to Help?


Don't attend, and tell your friends why they shouldn't attend either.

Tell your local venues not to book animal acts, and discourage businesses from sponsoring animal acts.

If you witness any animal abuse, report it to local authorities and the United States Department of Agriculture.

If you become aware of an animal act in Vermont, please notify us.

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