Wild animals in entertainment

There are different forms of entertainment using exotic, non-domesticated animals, such as circuses, TV and print advertising, greetings cards, events, TV programs and other public performances. Moreover, wild animals are frequently used as entertainment and photo-props for tourists all around the world. Primates, big cats, bears, elephants, camels, sea lions, giraffes, and zebras are commonly  seen performing unnatural, forced behaviors. They can be the property of a circus or animal trainer, or belong to specialized rental agencies.

Circuses and other forms of entertainment using non-domesticated exotic animals must be prohibited by law, regardless of how ‘traditional’ these practices may be. Entertainment or cultural considerations should never be the cover-up for blatant animal abuse. Particularly a circus cannot, under any circumstances, guarantee the wellbeing of the animals it trains and displays. Nor can it ensure public safety, as shown by a recent report by Eurogroup for Animals which has collected information on incidents involving circus animals in the EU. 

Luckily, governments all around the world, and especially in Europe, are starting to put and end to this practice. 3 Member States have banned the use of all animals in circuses, while 13 have banned the use of wild animals. In total, 23 Member States have taken legally-binding restrictions on the use of wild animals in circuses, whether by prohibiting the use of certain species or allowing some species in circus shows as exceptions. Additionally, some countries such as Spain have taken measures to prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses on regional or municipal level. Only 4 Member States haven’t adopted any national restriction regarding the use of animals in circuses yet. Click on the map below to read about developments per country.  

AAP and our partners are advocating for a total ban of the use of wild animals in circuses in the EU, and have launched a petition to EU Commissioner Stella Kyriakides which has already collected more of 900.000 signatures. 

Circus lion in cage
Many of the circus animals rescued by AAP have spent their lives in horrible conditions. 


The tourism industry is also known for using wild animals. Think of (drugged) Barbary macaques in the zouks of Morocco or the crowded Spanish costas, dancing monkeys in Indonesia or elephant rides in other parts of Asia. All these apparently harmless practices involve a degree of animal abuse and should be eradicated from our holiday photo albums!

AAP is working together with a number of animal protection organizations to alert tourists of these issues and make them aware of the role that they can play in putting an end to them, simply by saying ‘no’ when offered.

Read more about wild animals in tourism.


Aapje in toerisme