Elephants in Circus, Germany

Stop the suffering in EU circuses!

In a joint campaign, FOUR PAWS together with Eurogroup for Animals is calling for an EU ban on the use of wild animals in circuses


In European circuses, wild animals spend their life in transport wagons and small temporary enclosures. Under these conditions, species like elephants, giraffes, tigers or lions can’t express their natural behaviours that are vital for their wellbeing. Moreover, human handling and forced performances of unnatural behaviours are regular routines in the circus environment and detrimental for wild animal welfare. The use of such species is not only a problem for animal welfare. The public safety and security are also threatened by attacks or outbreaks of dangerous animal species kept in direct contact with humans and in poorly secured enclosures.

New report on circuses reinforces the need for EU ban

The updated version of the Eurogroup for Animals’ report "Wild Animals in EU Circuses : Problems, Risks and Solutions (Updated version March 2021)" clearly shows that the use of wild animals in circuses is not only a problem for animal welfare, but also an important issue of public safety and security. The report includes alarming figures of incidents involving the public and wild animals in circuses in the EU: 478 incidents involving 889 wild animals have been recorded in EU circuses in the past 24 years!

The consequences of these incidents are devastating: A total of 13 people were killed, and 99 people were injured.

The use of wild animals in circuses is not only an issue of animal welfare but also of public safety! Given the cross-border nature of the issue only an EU-wide harmonised and full ban can guarantee a coherent and effective solution.

Situation in the EU member states

Many countries worldwide reflect the public’s position on animal welfare grounds and limited or banned the use of wild animals in circuses. 23 EU Member States have national legislations restricting the use of either all, or exclusively wild, animals in circuses, and these measures are supported by many experts. But France, Germany, Italy and Spain don’t have any national restrictions yet and Czech Republic, Finland and Hungary only adopted restrictions on the use of some species. In these countries many wild animals’ species are still abused in circuses that can travel from country to country.

EU wide ban needed

Circuses are moving around Europe or freelance animal trainers transport their animals across borders for their shows in different circus companies. That’s why national bans alone are not enough to end this borderless animal cruelty. An EU wide ban is needed to end this outdated entertainment effectively!

New opinion poll: Majority of EU citizens for an end of wild animals in circuses

An opinion poll from February 2021 conducted in Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain clearly shows that the majority of EU citizens wants to see an end to this cruel entertainment:

  • The use of wild animals in circuses is cruel and wild animals should not be used for public entertainment: 68% agree
  • The European Union should ban the use of all wild animals in circuses: 62% agree
  • The European Union should guarantee that cruel uses of animals are not allowed: 83% agree
  • Circuses that still use wild animals must reinvent themselves by developing high quality shows with human performers: 69% agree
  • Circuses showing wild animals is educational: 20% agree


Find out more about the joint campaign here!

Update 13th October 2021: Petition handover

Thank you to everyone who joined us! One step closer to making history as one million Europeans call on the EU commission to put an end to the use of wild animals in circuses.

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Big cats in a circus

It's time to ban wild animals in circuses!

1,000,000 signatures were handed over #EUStopCircusSuffering campaign

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