A black bear was made to take part in a circus performance in central China on Friday, October 2. When audience members reportedly threw food on stage, he naturally tried to eat what was in front of him. But according to a witness, the bear’s handler “wouldn’t allow it because [the bear was] performing.”
The handler reportedly beat him to prevent him from “eating [the] treats,” causing the animal to lash out in frustration and defensiveness. In the video, another circus staff member can be seen forcefully hitting the bear on the head with his palm. A third staff member then appears and begins beating him with a large shovel—and a fourth then joins in, whacking him with a stick, as if he’s hitting a ball with a bat.
The bear’s teeth had reportedly been sawed off when he was a cub, something that’s apparently done in preparation for incidents like this. According to the Daily Mail, the handler sustained scratches to his arm and will recover.
It’s not shocking that a bear would lash out after being beaten, and it’s appalling that animals are still being used as props and abused in circuses in 2020.
As heartbreaking as this video is, it’s certainly nothing new—we’ve seen this type of cruelty too many times to count. A PETA investigator visited circuses and animal-training facilities in China and discovered bear cubs chained by their necks and tethered to a wall, which is done (sometimes for hours) to train them to walk on their hind legs—abuse that can cause permanent joint damage or even necrosis and paralysis.
The investigator also documented that handlers used violence and intimidation to make bear cubs jump over objects, walk on their hands, and perform other confusing tricks—and when the cubs cried, screamed, grunted, and groaned, the abuse still didn’t stop.
This abuse is not unique to China.
Any circus that that uses bears and other animals inevitably subjects them to terrifying and cruel training methods as well as barren, cramped living conditions.
More people are becoming aware of the cruelty involved in forcing animals to perform, but it’s time for all of us to stop patronizing animal circuses. Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Greece, Mexico, Singapore, and many other countries around the world have banned or are in the process of banning wild-animal acts.
Please never patronize any animal “attraction.” Every ticket purchased supports a cruel industry. Please share this post with your friends and family…
… and take them to see only animal-free circuses.