Wild Animals in Circuses

For nearly 40 years Zoocheck has been a leader in the fight against the use of wild animals in circuses. In addition to numerous investigations, public awareness campaigns, local legislative initiatives across the country and a successful major effort to convince the City of Toronto to ban wild animals in circuses (the first major city to take that step) in the early 1990s, Zoocheck has also expended considerable resources helping other animal welfare and animal rights organizations combat wild animal circuses in their communities both in North America and around the world.

Zoocheck also worked to alleviate the suffering of individual bears and other animals in circuses and other entertainment situations. We facilitated the placement of former UK circus bears to sanctuaries in Canada and exposed the plight of wild caught Canadian polar bears that had been exported from Manitoba, eventually ending up in the horrendously cruel conditions of the Suarez Bros. Circus in Latin America (those bears were eventually seized by US authorities in Puerto Rico and transferred to several US zoos).

While there are still some wild animals being used in circuses and traveling shows in Canada, their numbers have diminished drastically over time. Animals that were considered integral to circuses in the past, such as elephants, big cats, bears and primates, are now largely absent from circuses touring Canada today. And there are currently no traditional animal-based circuses operating out of Canada.

The greatest number of wild animals used for entertainment today can be found in film, television and other commercial activities, as well as small traveling zoos and mobile live animal programs that frequent schools, corporate functions and special events. Zoocheck has been working aggressively for a number of years to stop the exploitation of wild animals in this manner.