Our eyewitness investigation that exposed cruelty to animals in Suzhou’s circuses is being talked about all over China. Our exposé revealed unimaginable abuse: Bears are chained to concrete walls in order to force them to remain standing for hours—and they start to strangle to death if they attempt to sit—monkeys are kept in and chained to small, barren cages, in which they thrashed around and paced back and forth, showing signs of intense distress, and tigers are forced to balance on balls, all just for human entertainment. If the animals fail to comply with the trainers’ demands, they endure physical punishment, including starvation, at the hands of their trainers.
News of our investigation prompted the State Forestry Department to raid a circus and confiscate more than 20 bears when trainers failed to show a license for the animals.
Even though we know that forcing bears to stand upright by chaining them by their necks—in order to train them to walk on their hind legs—is extremely cruel, China’s police are still investigating whether this can be considered illegal in China. Unfortunately, the trainers have been told by the police that the bears will be returned to them if they acquire the needed licenses. Regardless, this is a huge step forward in China.
PETA’s scathing report is causing outrage far and wide.
Not only has Suzhou’s local newspaper spread the word about the ways in which the city’s circuses abuse animals, one of the largest newspapers in China, The Beijing News, recently wrote a story about Suzhou’s circuses and featured it on the front page of its website. Dozens of other papers have covered the story as well. This is a milestone for animals in a country where virtually no laws exist to protect animals in circuses. Many in prominent positions are also speaking out against animal circuses. Professor Xie Yan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Zoology agrees that there is a problem with animal abuse in circus training programs and that some animals are captured from the wild or imported through smuggling.
Thanks to the spotlight that the media have shone on animal abuse in circuses, more people are becoming aware of this important issue, but it’s time for all of us to stop patronizing circuses that use animals. Remember, this abuse is not unique to China. Any circus that uses animals inevitably subjects them to terrifying and cruel training methods as well as barren, cramped living conditions. Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Greece, Mexico, Singapore, and many other countries have banned or are in the process of banning wild-animal acts.