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Stereotypic Behavior of Animals Confined in Circuses

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Uploaded on Mar 23, 2008

The scientific literature show that carnivores, in particular members of the cat family and bears, suffer as a result of captivity. This evidence has mainly been gathered in zoo studies, where the animals have a permanent residence. In most modern zoos, efforts are now made to create a habitat as close to the animals' natural environment as possible.
However due to the travelling nature of circuses, it is impossible to provide the animals with these things, therefore one can assume that any negative effects of captivity seen in zoos will be worse in the circus environment.

Elephants in circuses are commonly shackled as a method of control and confinement, involving the chaining of one foreleg and one hind leg to the ground. This kind of fixation restricts the freedom of movement to such a degree that these animals are not able to exhibit most of their species' typical behaviours. It also restricts social interactions because contact is limited to an immediate neighbouring elephant shackled beside them (Schmid, 1995). Although many circuses now claim to give their elephants some degree of regular access to a pen or outdoor enclosure, it is debatable how much time they can spend in such an enclosure when the circus is always on the move and the elephants have to be prepared for their performances. These animals also tend to be chained overnight, from the time that the workers finish their day, to when they arrive for work the next day -- this can mean over 50% of their time (ADI observation data).

However even when elephants are able to spend time unchained, they are still subject to conditions of close confinement. Consequently stereotypies occur in captive elephants, regardless of the method of husbandry used.

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