China’s Cruel Circuses Exposed: Lions, Tigers and Bear Cubs Hit, Chained and Deprived

A PETA Asia investigator visited 10 different circuses and animal training facilities in the Chinese city of Suzhou and documented animal abuse and suffering on a massive scale.

Watch the heartbreaking video:

Throughout China, circuses, travelling shows and roadside zoos force animals – including bears, monkeys, tigers, lions, dogs and others – to perform for the public.

Cruelty to Bears

China Circus_Bear tied in cage Cropped
PETA Asia’s investigator documented that bear cubs are chained or tethered to a wall and forced to remain upright, sometimes for hours, in order to train them to walk on their hind legs. If they can’t hold themselves up, they risk choking and hanging themselves.

China Circus_2 bears tied to wall

Forcing bears to stand for prolonged periods of time on their hind legs can cause lifelong physical problems. Jin Yipeng, deputy professor of veterinary medicine at China Agricultural University, notes, “Over the long term that causes permanent joint damage or even necrosis and paralysis. … [T]he animals often acquire these problems in their youth, meaning they suffer for the rest of their lives”.

Some bear cubs like these were also tethered to a hook in the ground by a short rope, making it impossible to move more than a few inches in any direction.

China Circus_Bear tied to floor

Bears were also forced – through violence and intimidation – to jump over objects, walk on their hands and perform other confusing tricks. The cubs cried, screamed, grunted and groaned during training. They repeatedly resisted, but trainers yanked them by the ropes around their necks, dragged them, grabbed them by the fur on their backs, yelled at them and forced them to continue.

This bear was pulled by the rope around her neck and forced to walk on parallel bars. If she stopped or made a mistake, she was hit with a stick.

China Circus_Bear on parallel barsWhen they weren’t being forced to perform, the bears were confined to cramped, barren cages. They cried out, pawing and biting at the bars, desperate to escape.

Many animals like this cub looked sickly, lethargic, frightened, and depressed.

Some had their snouts pierced with metal rings, which were used to lead them around. Such procedures are frequently performed without any pain medication.

China Circus_Bear with ring through nose Cropped

Cruelty to Big Cats

Lions and tigers were forced to balance on balls, roll around on the ground and stand on their hind legs.

China Circus_Tiger balances on ball

Trainers hit, jabbed and threatened them with long, heavy metal poles, some of which had a whip on the ends.

China Circus_Lion and trainer China Circus_Tiger and trainer Cropped

When not being forced to perform, big cats were confined to barren cages with little space to move around in.

China Circus_Lion in cage with chain

Many were forced to wear chains around their necks and could only take a few steps in any direction. Only one of the 10 facilities toured by the investigator had an indoor area in which tigers could find relief from the sweltering heat.

China Circus_Tiger in barren cage

Cruelty to Monkeys

China Circus_Sad monkey

The investigator found monkeys grimacing, struggling against neck chains, defecating in fear and attempting to escape from their handlers. One monkey was chained to a goat’s horns and forced to do a handstand while the goat climbed a ladder and stood on a vase balanced on a high beam. As he struggled to keep his balance, a handler repeatedly jabbed him with a metal pole.

This monkey was dragged and yanked around by a rope around her neck, causing her to struggle and try to escape from her trainer. China Circus_Monkey with rope round neck

Monkeys were kept in and chained to small, barren cages, in which they thrashed around and paced back and forth, showing signs of intense distress. They had no choice but to eat, drink, sleep, defecate and urinate all in one small area.

These monkeys were chained and caged when not performing.

Cruelty to Other Animals

China Circus_Llama Cropped Other animals, such as dogs, llamas and pigs, were also kept in decrepit conditions and forced to perform.

China Circus_Pig Cropped

This senior dog, named Laifu by the investigator and too old to perform, was forced to live in this cage 24 hours day and never let out.

China Circus_Elderly Dog

What You Can Do

Please, never visit a circus that uses animals. Circuses all around the world use cruel training methods similar to what was documented in China to force animals to perform.

In the UK, we’re still waiting for the government to keep its promise to ban wild-animal circuses. Speak out and urge politicians to start protecting animals from abuse in the name of entertainment.