What’s More Scary Than Clowns? The Circus Itself!


Many see the circus as a must-see experience for young children. It’s exciting, fun, and what may consider life changing. But the reality behind the scenes is nothing close to this exaggeration. For the ones being entertained it may seem life changing, but in fact, it is most life changing for these animals that are forced to do the entertaining.

Ever go to a circus and become mind-bottled on how wild animals could do such stunts? Those tricks may seem remarkable, but imagine the training those elephants, tigers, monkeys, and all the other animals must have gone through to do something so unnatural. No elephant is going to simply balance themselves on a tiny platform on command. No tiger is going to jump threw a fire blazing ring on command. Nor is a monkey going to ride a bicycle on command. These unnatural acts may seem entertaining to you, but what about for the animals? Think of how long it takes to train a dog to sit! Even then, the dog is being rewarded with treats. Unlike dogs, these elephants are not being rewarded the smallest peanut or praise. These animals are wild. The amount of training it takes to teach them to do such things is astonishing, really. But in reality, how would one even go about doing so?

Do you really think a tiger, or over a thousand pound elephant would listen to you? Of course not! These wild animals are what you would consider forcefully tamed and the process is not something you would put your dog through, that’s for sure.

First consider how these wild animals are kept – in cages. It may seem something similar to a zoo or wildlife sanctuary, but it’s far worse than that. Because circuses travel from city to city, besides the fact that cages are completely unnecessary for these wild animals, the size of them is disturbing. Imagine being a slave to someone and being used to forcefully entertain others. What kind of life would this be? It may seem that this is surely no life at all; in fact, that is the exact case when you are horrifically forced to hand over your life or serve as a prisoner, known as a circus animal.


Spending your time in what seems like a jail cell is only to say the least amount of cruelty these wild animals go through daily. To get them to do tricks, these animals are beaten, chained, whipped, and worse yet, starved. The cruelty these creatures are put through just to entertain a group of people who do not even know the truth, is heartbreaking. It’s not only saddening to know the pain these innocent animals go through day after day, but pitiful to know that people do not even know the truth behind circus brutality.

According to Mercy For Animals, “Former Ringling performer Kelly Tansy has this to say:

“’On my very first day with the circus, I witnessed animal cruelty. I saw an elephant being beaten in what appeared to be a disciplinary action. The beating was so severe that the elephant screamed. I have come to realize, through all the circuses that I have worked for, that mistreatment of animals is a standard part of training and is thought to be a ‘necessary’ part of exhibiting them.

I have seen chimps locked in small cages constantly when not performing; elephants chained continuously; and even animals being beaten during performances. You won’t find these quotes in circus programs anymore, but one well-known elephant trainer stated in the 1978 Ringling program that, according to his father, ‘An elephant trainer must have a strong back, a weak mind, and a savage disposition.’”

This experience must be as traumatizing as one could even imagine. Being trained by pain, transported in such a small cage, just to entertain day after day is not only exhausting, but simply not okay. If you think clowns are scary, imagine a life of knowing you are going to be beaten if you don’t do unnatural things. It may seem unbelievable, because it is; that any human would have a heart at all to not sympathize that all animals can feel. There is more that needs to be done about this cruelty, and as a consumer, the job falls into your hands. 

Boycotting this cruelty is relatively easy. Simply do not attend these sick acts of entertainment through torture. Aside from the performers who live freely and actually made this decision to perform in the circus, the animals did not. Those who say these animals actually like learning new tricks must be mistaking or are clearly not aware of what really goes on before and after performances. All animals who are born to live in the wild are not ours to use as entertainment; for these animals only want to live free. After all, they do call them wild animals for a reason. They are taken out of the wild and forced to live a life that is no theirs. Imagine how alone it must feel to have no interaction with your own kind. Some may like this, but when it comes down to it, the depressing state of mind you must live in day after day is truly devastating.

Make the change for not only these imprisoned animals, but for future generations – to teach them that empathy does exist within all form of life, even when we have to force ourselves to disregard the stupidity of others.

If circuses still remain a large priority for entertainment, why not attend circuses without the use of animals? ASPCA has provided a great list here, so be sure to check it out. Better yet, who not face the truth of what of living as a prisoner is truly like? 

Warning, this is graphic and may cause extreme discomfort, especially to young audiences.