Animals - our friends

Animals in the Circus - Telling the truth:






* Whereas the European circus community is guaranteed the freedom to provide their services across the European Union and has the right to present animals as part of their artistic creation and cultural tradition;


* Whereas the European Parliament has recognized the classical circus, including the presentation of animals, as part of European culture;


* Whereas the presentation of animals in the circus is educational as well as entertaining, and furthers the public’s appreciation of the animals, their needs and their abilities;


* Taking into account that the ECA supports the establishment of appropriate laws to govern the care of all animals and believes that any form of animal abuse or mistreatment is wrong and should be fully prosecuted; and


*That the ECA supports and encourages efforts to protect and conserve endangered species, including public education and participation in breeding programmes and scientific studies that promote the survival of these species in the wild.,
The ECA has adopted this Code of Conduct to contribute to the highest possible welfare of all animals in the circus and invites all persons responsible for animals in the circus to adhere to them.


To maintain their good standing, ECA Members must comply with all applicable laws, regulations and guidelines concerning animal health and welfare as well as the following:


A complete programme for veterinary surveillance and care must be developed and followed for each animal.   Food that meets nutritional needs, fresh water, exercise and appropriate enrichment must be provided on a regular basis as appropriate for each species and individual.  Trained staff must be on hand to monitor the animals and ensure their well-being and safety at all times.


Animals must be housed as appropriate for their species. They must be provided with protection from the weather, a clean dry stables / living area, fresh bedding, and freedom of movement within their enclosure. Suitable barriers must be in place between the public and the animals.


Transportation of animals must be appropriate for the species and individuals involved, in accordance with professionally recognised standards and government regulatory requirements, where applicable.


All animal training must be based on operant conditioning and the use of positive reinforcement and repetition of desired behaviours. Training should showcase individual animals’ natural behaviours and athletics. Training must not place an animal in danger nor cause physical injury or psychological stress.


All animals presented in the circus must be of suitable temperament and condition for presentation, provided adequate time for rest, and the possibility of retreat from public exhibition as necessary for the species. 


Animals used for rides or other public interactions must be of suitable temperament and trained for such activities. They must be allowed ample time without interactions and should be removed from these activities at any time that they display aggressive or unpredictable behaviour. Trained staff must be on hand at all times that the public is interacting with animals and appropriate safety barriers must be utilised to maximize public safety.


Animals must be retired from performance at the appropriate time for the species and individual concerned.  All retired animals must receive the same care as performing animals with appropriate adjustments to exercise and other routines as required by their age and condition.

Complete individual records must be maintained for all animals, including health documents, ownership papers and required permits and/or licenses.







ECA Circus Animal Fund


Partnering with Animals in the Classical Circus


First seen in London more than two hundred years ago, the classical circus remains a vital part of European arts and culture. From the beginning, animals have been an integral part of travelling circus. Performing animals amaze and amuse millions of people with their natural beauty, and capabilities. Circus animals today are born in captivity in Europe but serve as ambassadors for their respective species in the wild.


The European Circus Association (ECA) requires all of its members working with animals to comply with its Code of Conduct. It also encourages its members to undertake activities to support conservation programs and efforts for the long-term survival of endangered species. ECA supports the establishment of good regulations for circus animals and strict enforcement of animal welfare laws. ECA has created and offers to goverments that lack applicable laws a Model Regulation for the Care, Transport and Presentation of Animals in the Circus.




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