Stunning Artworks Focus Attention on Cruel Treatment of Bears in Circuses

For Immediate Release:
30 April 2018

Cape Town – At its headquarters in Beijing, SOHO China is displaying a striking collection of bear images painted by over 80 artists and celebrities – including leading South African artist Lionel Smit, Chinese painting master Cui Zimo, leading Chinese realistic painter Zhou Song, and the designer of the 2008 Olympic medal, Xiao Yong – as part of a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) exhibition that aims to call attention to the plight of bears used in circuses. Video footage of Smit painting his work for PETA can be viewed here.

Visitors can admire all the wonderful artwork at the exhibition, as well as learning about cruelty to animals and how to stop supporting it.

“Over 80 of the world’s most caring actors and artists have helped PETA create beautiful bear-protection pieces,” says PETA Asia Vice President Jason Baker. “This evocative exhibition will celebrate the spirit of the bear and will send viewers a strong message never to support circuses or other animal-exploiting operations.”

PETA Asia’s investigation into circuses in Suzhou revealed that the animals were forced under the constant threat of violence to spin hula hoops, box, and play trumpets. In addition, bear cubs were strung up by their necks for hours to train them to stand on their hind legs, among numerous other abuses.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – notes that while bears in the wild roam across up to hundreds of miles, those used in circuses are routinely held in dog kennel–sized cages when not performing, leading to psychological distress, arthritis, pressure sores, and other debilitating conditions. They’re also denied the opportunity to hibernate, which can result in behavioural and physiological issues.

For more information, please visit Photos from the exhibition are available upon request.