Wild animals are still used in circuses and traveling shows across North America. Most are shunted from town to town with no opportunity to live according to their natural biology and behaviour. They may endure severe confinement, deprivation, hardship and brutality.

Many performing wild animals are also large, potentially dangerous and perform in front of audiences with few protective measures in place. They pose a risk to themselves, their handlers, audience members and bystanders.

As a leader in the struggle to end the exploitation of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows, Zoocheck conducts its own investigative and research projects, prepares and distributes a broad array of campaigning materials, and provides technical, material and financial support to local campaigns across the country.




Wild Animals in Circuses Suffer

Circus Animals are Not Protected by Canadian Laws

Wild Animal Acts are a Threat to Health and Safety

Circus Myths about Education & Conservation

Frequently Asked Questions about Circus Animals


The following is a short list of ways that you can help reduce or prevent the suffering of performing animals in circuses and traveling shows.

1. Do not patronize circuses or traveling shows that feature wild animal acts.

2. Do not purchase tickets to charity circuses or traveling shows that feature wild animal acts. Inform the charity that you will not support the exploitation of wild animals, but that you would be happy to support a non-animal circus or traveling show.

3. Learn as much as you can about the plight of performing wild animals and the circus industry. Read Zoocheck’s fact sheets and reports about performing animal issues.

4. Contact your local Shrine Temple or chapter (the Shrine organization is one of the largest promoters of animal-based circuses) to find out if they promote circuses featuring wild animal acts in your community. If they do, let them know that, while you appreciate their work, you will not support their circus fund-raisers. Ask family, friends and co-workers to do the same.

5. If your local Shrine Temple or chapter, or any other entertainment company in your area produces circuses that do not feature wild animal acts, write them a letter thanking them for producing humane, ethical entertainment and ask them to encourage their industry colleagues to do the same.

6. Write a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper explaining why performing wild animal acts are cruel, outdated and unsafe.

7. Contact the Mayor and Members of Council in your own community to arrange a meeting to explain why performing wild animal acts are cruel, outdated and unsafe.

8. Start a campaign to enact a performing wild animal prohibition in your community. Contact Zoocheck for more information on how to get started.

9. Participate in letter writing campaigns organized by Zoocheck and other animal protection organizations.

10. Purchase tickets to all-human circuses and traveling shows that visit your area.

11. Support Zoocheck and other animal protection organizations that work to end the suffering of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows


Captive Elephants in Circuses, A scientific investigation of the population status, management and welfare significance (2008) CUPA/ ANCF/ WSPA.

Performing Prisoners, A Case Against the Use of Wild Animals in Circuses, Traveling Shows & Novelty Acts (2006) Zoocheck.

The Bull in the China Shop, An Assessment of the Human Safety Risks Associated With Wild Performing Animals in Circuses (2005) 

Public Safety and the Ineffectiveness of Circus Recapture Plans (2003) Zoocheck.