Animals are abused and exploited in a variety of forms of “entertainment.” In circuses, elephants, lions, tigers, and other animals are sentenced to a lifetime of misery in order to provide a few moments of human amusement.
Animals are also forced into the role of unwilling performer in other venues, including:
- Marine parks, where captive marine mammals such as dolphins and orcas aredoomed to a life of confinement, deprived of normal social and environmental interaction. Animals in marine parks typically show signs of psychological disturbance are often forced to perform degrading tricks that run counter to their natural instincts.
- Roadside zoos and aquariums, where, under the guise of “conservation” and the name of “education,” animals are too often treated as disposable specimens. Many animals held in captivity in these facilities continue to be bored, cramped, lonely, and unable to perform normal social behaviors. Too many zoos still sell off older and “surplus” animals who may end up in roadside menageries, breeding facilities, circuses, or even as “game” in canned hunt facilities.
- Movie and television sets, where animals are used as involuntary “props” to sellproducts and services, and to boost the profits of studios and production companies. In addition to all the problems associated with keeping wild animals in captivity, animals used in filming have been mistreated, injured, or even killed on set.
- Other Venues: Animals are also exploited and mistreated for human amusement in horse and greyhound racing, cockfighting and dog fighting, and in shopping malls and schools where they are put on public display. Exotic animals are often used in photo opportunities, or are shot and killed in canned hunts or on hunting ranches. Unfortunately, people can be very creative in finding ways to make a profit off of other animals.
The Animal Protection Institute (and WRR) strongly opposes the use of animals in all entertainment venues. Animals are not novelties; they have their own needs, interests, and rights — including the right to engage in their natural behaviors in their natural environment. We are committed to using every tool at our disposal, from lobbying to lawsuits to grassroots organizing, to end the cruel exploitation of animals for human amusement and profit.
Ten Fast Facts about Animals in Entertainment
- The use of animals as “entertainers” removes animals from their natural habitat; deprives them of the ability to freely engage in instinctual behaviors; often involves cruel training methods; desensitizes both children and adults to animal mistreatment; and does not adequately address the real conservation threats that face animals in the wild.
- There is minimal state and federal protection for animals used in entertainment. Many of the animals used for human amusement are not even covered by the federal Animal Welfare Act.
- While zoos and aquariums may appear to be educational and conservation-oriented, most are designed with the needs and desires of the visitors in mind, not the needs of the animals. Many animals in zoos and aquariums exhibit abnormal behavior as a result of being deprived of their natural environments and social structures.
- Some zoos and aquariums do rescue some animals and work to save endangered species, but most animals in zoos were either captured from the wild or bred in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection.
- The vast majority of captive-bred animals will never be returned to the wild. When a facility breeds too many animals they become “surplus” and often are sold to laboratories, traveling shows, canned hunting facilities, or to private individuals who may be unqualified to care for them.
- Horses and cows used in rodeos are abused with electrical prods, sharp spurs, and “bucking straps” that pinch their sensitive flank area. During bucking events, horses and bulls may suffer broken legs or run into the sides of the arena, causing serious injury and even death.
- During calf-roping events in rodeos, a calf may reach a running speed of 27 miles per hour before being jerked by the neck to an abrupt stop by a lasso. This event has resulted in punctured lungs, internal hemorrhaging, paralysis, and broken necks.
- Once greyhounds begin their racing careers, they are kept in cages for more than 20 hours a day. The cages are made of wire and are barely big enough for the dogs to turn around. Dogs who are considered too slow to race are often sold to research facilities or killed About 20,000 are killed each year; very few are adopted.
- Horses used in racing are bred for one purpose: to make money. Because of this motive, horses are often forced to run even when injured. More racehorses are bred than can prove profitable on the racetrack. As a result, hundreds of racehorses are sent to slaughter every year.
- During a typical cockfighting tournament, one-third to one-half of the birds are killed. Winners as well as losers suffer severe injuries including broken wings, punctured lungs, and gouged eyes.
The above article is reprinted with the permission of the Animal Protection Institute (API).