Circus Animal Cruelty Awareness Ad Campaigns

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Circus Animal Cruelty Awareness Ad Campaigns

Circuses – kids love them, animal lovers hate them. We know the abuse most of these animals go through and we hate seeing wild animals stuck in cages only to be used for our personal entertainment. Circus animal cruelty is real – and needs to stop.

Although it seems we are beginning to see change in this industry – we still have a long way to go.

Circuses take place all over the world – and we recently came across some fantastic awareness campaigns that we hope have touched people in a way that will help them understand the plight of the circus animal and to stop supporting this abuse! Circus animal cruelty is a real thing – and while you may see these animals performing and think they are happy – rest assured, they are not happy – and often in fear, sick and being beat to make you smile.

While some circuses have begun removing animals from their circuses – we still have a long way to go in educating and letting others know that these horrible acts are still happening all over the world.

First let’s talk about the statistics regarding animal abuse in circuses.

Circus Animal Cruelty: The Facts

  • Training is often done with abusive practices and punishment. From food being withheld to being beaten – if a cat does not perform a trick, the outcome is to be abused.
  • They are often kept in cages that are too small and often eat, sleep and rest in these cages with little time outside except to perform.
  • Tigers – well they are afraid of fire, but yet are forced to jump through rings of fire for your pleasure.
  • Babies are often removed from their parents way before they are ready.
  • About 96% of the life of a circus animal spends their lives in chains or cages.
  • When they can no longer perform, they are often sold to roadside zoos, research labs or into the exotic pet trade which are all just as bad as the circus.

Circus Animal Abuse Ad Campaigns

Below are some of my favorite ad campaigns that really invoke emotion and get the message out loud and clear – animals in circuses are abused so please do not support circuses!

Animals Are Not Clowns Ad Campaign

The Animals are Not Clowns campaign images features the following text on each of their designs:

“Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls for the crack of the whip against the animal’s stinging wounds. A big round of applause for the flaming hoops, the injuries and the electric shocks. Come and see the famed number of cages and tightly binding chains allowing no escape from endless training sessions. Laugh, applaud and join in with the repetitive choreographed routines typical of depressed animals under great stress. All the fun of the circus traveling from city to city exhibiting animals as human caricatures. Clowning around that’s no fun at all. Animal circuses, don’t be part of the show.”  

*credit for this campaign goes to: Accao Animal and Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos do Animal

You Can Stop This Cruelty

Although I am not always a fan of PETA as I find some of their practices to be extreme, I am a fan of some of their awareness campaigns. This one focuses on the comparisons of how a circus may promote the animals in their shows with a more realistic promotional item that shows what the reality of that animals world is like. The left is a brightly colored promotional poster showing how awesome it will be to see these amazing animals – but on the right is the reality of the dark, scary world these animals really live in. I really love this comparison!

*Campaign was created by the Young&Rubicam advertising agency in China

The Elephant

Text reads: “Every Ticket you buy means this for the elephant. Heavily chained and confined in small cages, elephants are let out only when it’s time to train. Barbed hooks are used to painfully teach them how to do entertaining tricks, like standing on their hind legs. This odd body position combined with their weight causes joint and spinal injuries, ruptured ligaments and in some cases, paralysis.”

Elephant In Circus

The Monkey

Text reads: “Every Ticket you buy means this for the monkey. They have to be beaten, punished, starved and subjected to horrifying psychological abuse to teach them a few new tricks. Trainers will do what it takes to get a monkey to ride a bicycle and other amusing acts. Worse than the physical pain, the kind of extreme mental stress the monkey suffers have driven may of them to the point of insanity.”

Monkey In Circus

The Tiger

Text reads: “Every Ticket you buy means this for the tiger. They get their fangs and claws pulled out. Usually without any anesthetic. After that, the torturous lessons of learning routines like jumping through fiery hoops. If they are lucky, the only get scarred and burnt. Severe cases have seen tigers end up blind or with broken legs where they remain untreated and left to fester.”

Tiger In Circus

Welcome To The Saddest Show On Earth

Another PETA campaign that does a great job with the play on words for what was coined the “The Biggest Show on Earth” now transformed to the “Saddest Show On Earth” to really hit home as to how badly animals are treated.

*Campaign was created by the Young&Rubicam advertising agency in China

Step Right Up

Big Cat Rescue is based out of Tampa, Florida is one of the leading nonprofit organizations trying to bring change to helping big cats live more free lives.

This advertising campaign was inspired to bring awareness about the misery of big cats for use in circus entertainment. The graphic remind you of an actual circus ad with its colors and design, but when you read the text, the reality is spelled out loud and clear.

You can learn more about Big Cat Rescue here and hopefully you can help them and make more change!

*created by PP+K advertising


There are circuses that you can attend that do not use animals in their performances that are just as good — if not better than a traditional circus! In some countries there have been actual bans on on using animals in circuses!

Take a look at the below options if you want to have a great family day without the abuse of animals being a core part of the entertainment! I have noted where the circuses are based out of – some only perform locally while others do perform all over the country. Please visit their websites for more details and to find some fun near you!

I will try to keep this list as updated as possible!

Last updated: September 2, 2020

Animal-Free Circuses

Bindelstiff Family Cirkus – New York, NY

Circus Oz – Victoria, Australia

Circus Smirkus – based out of Greensboro, VT

Circus Vargas – Lucerne Valley, CA

Cirque du Soleil – Montreal, Canada

Cirque Eloize – Montreal, Canada

Neil Goldberg’s Cirque – Hollywood, FL

The New Pickle Circus – San Francisco, CA

New Shanghai Circus – Branson, MO

If you are aware of a circus that does not use animals that is not listed here – please let us know in the comments below so I can get it added to the list!

Jill Caren CharityPaws

Jill Caren

Jill is an avid animal lover who spends her time helping animal rescues by photographing homeless pets and through her work on CharityPaws.

She is currently owned by Cleo, an American Pit Bull Terrier and Snoopy Cat. Her inspiration comes from her girls Ginger and Riley (RIP) – pit mix sisters who were loved family members for almost 15 years.

You can find her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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