Campaign for an EU ban on the use of wild animals in circuses

Thousands of wild animals are still suffering silently in circus tents and trailers all across the EU. While many EU countries have adopted national bans or restrictions on the use of wild animals in circuses, the show is not yet over. Every year, hundreds of circuses still tour across dozens of EU countries, forcing thousands of wild animals to perform.

This is cruel, dangerous and unnecessary. And it must end now.


Circuses are no place for wild animals. The physiological, psychological and behavioral needs of wild animals are compromised in every aspect of the circus environment, from brutal training methods and the performance of unnatural tricks, to constrained housing conditions and frequent, lengthy transports. Without exception, wild animals in circuses endure suffering. The COVID19 pandemic places further strain on the health and welfare conditions of circus animals.


Wild animals are unpredictable and the close proximity of these animals to the public, during performance but also in case of escapes, can pose dangers to humans. In fact, 404 incidents involving 836 wild animals have been recorded in EU circuses in the past 24 years. Without an EU-wide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, these risks remain present even in countries that have already adopted national bans. After all, circus animals can still be transported across their territory to other countries where performance is allowed, posing public safety risks to these transit countries as well.


The circus art doesn’t need wild animals in the ring. In fact, many circuses that have stopped using wild animals in their act are doing very well; they have lower expenses and are highly appreciated by the public as modern circuses. The use of wild animals in circuses also has no educational value when it comes to animal welfare and species’ conservation. Instead of facilitating and promoting learning about the animals’ natural needs, circuses promote a lack of respect and empathy for living beings. They also do not contribute to, but actually harm, the conservation of species.

The show must end now

Together with our Eurogroup for Animals partners, we are calling on the European Union to urgently adopt an EU-wide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. The European Union has the competence and responsibility to stop circus animal suffering and overcome the shortcomings of divergent national legislation.

As a recent poll by Savanta ComRes shows, the majority of EU citizens demand an EU-wide ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. It’s time for the EU to end the show once and for all.