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Animal-Free Circuses

A listing of circuses that take a stand against cruelty by not using animals. Not all circuses publicize that they are animal-free, so this up-to-date list is a valuable resource. In addition, some circuses do not use animals in the show, and so say they are “animal-free,” though they may tour with a petting zoo or midway shows. Check here to make sure animal-free means no animals are used at all.

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Circuses That Use Animals

The following circuses travel with animals. Through the Freedom of Information Act, their inspection records can be made available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS). Website: https://foia.aphis.usda.gov. Further information about some of these circuses can be obtained at the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) Website at www.circuses.com.

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Circus Elephant Death List

From 1994 to 2005, at least 31 circus elephants have died premature deaths*.

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Circus Violations of the Animal Welfare Act

The following is a list of circuses warned or charged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with violating the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) since January 1995.

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What’s Wrong with the Circus?

Source: Animal Issues, Volume 35 Number 2, Summer 2004

The circus is coming to town! This familiar phrase conjures vivid images of amazing acrobats, capering clowns ... and exotic animals. Unlike the human performers who choose to work in circuses, however, exotic animals are forced to take part in the show. They are involuntary actors in a degrading spectacle, forced into an unnatural life.

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State Restrictions Governing Traveling Shows and Circuses in the U.S.

  • Prohibits any animal on public exhibit or display from coming into contact with the general public. (ARIZ. ADMIN. CODE R12-4-428.)

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Shrine Circuses

Shriners groups across the United States contract with various circus producers to hold circus events on behalf of the Shrine.

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Fact Sheet

Performing captive wildlife — elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas — all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to “entertain” an uninformed audience.

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