Credit: VCG

The tide of public opinion may be turning against animal performances in circuses in China

On August 30, Guangzhou Zoo announced that such performances would cease from this month after deciding not to renew its contract with Anhui Guangde Animal Circus, which had been renting space at the zoo and staging performances there for 24 years.

Chinese news stories credited ‘rising calls for animal protection’ [link in Chinese] for the zoo’s decision. The past year has seen multiple videos emerge of animal abuse in China’s circuses, particularly of tigers, and subsequently go viral on social media, triggering thousands of comments from users condemning the treatment.

EIA strongly supports decisions to end circus performances involving tigers and other wildlife. Performances involving animals serve no purpose whatsoever in conserving wildlife or educating the public as the animals are required to perform highly unnatural behaviour and their ‘training’ often involves cruel and barbaric treatment.

Circuses are among the 200-plus facilities which hold captive tigers in China and EIA investigations have exposed the country’s captive tiger industry as a significant source of tiger parts in trade, stimulating demand rather than reducing it. This in turn is fuelling poaching for ‘premium’ wild tiger and other big cat body parts.

Further media coverage this week reveals that animal performances have in fact continued at Guangzhou Zoo, despite the protests of the zoo management which is discouraging visitors from attending the circus.

EIA hopes to see enforcement activity in Guangzhou to end the now-unauthorised performances and urges that Chinese authorities take note of public opinion to phase out the commercial breeding and trade of tigers and other endangered species.