Animal entertainment

It’s a paradox. People are passionate about animals. They want to see them, watch them, touch them, take selfies with them. Yet the same animals providing the fascination, the experiences, and animal entertainment for humans are suffering unimaginable abuses as a result.


The use of animals as “entertainers” removes them from their natural habitat; deprives them of the ability to engage in instinctual behaviors; often involves cruel training methods; desensitizes both children and adults to animal mistreatment; and does not adequately address the real conservation threats that face animals in the wild today.


The result is we are experiencing, watching and touching animals that are stressed, depressed, and frustrated. Animals in entertainment are considered mostly as a means to their owners financial gain, and the consumers sense of curiosity and entertainment.


Often tourists are entirely unaware of the cruelty that goes on behind the scenes. Here is a list of some of the cruelest types of attractions, those that must be avoided completely.




  1. Dolphin and Whale Performances

In a matter of minutes a wild dolphin’s life changes. Chased by high-speed boats, caught in a net, and hauled onboard to travel hundreds of miles to their Seaquarium destination. For many, the associated stress is too much and they die in the process. Those that do make it face a lifetime confined to a tank, swimming in static patterns.


Whales and dolphins living in steel tanks suffer from loneliness, boredom, and stress without the ability to travel long distances, interact with others of its own kind and navigate their ocean home. Whales and dolphins communicate through echolocation. In captivity these sounds echo back to them from the steel walls of their tank. They stop talking and are driven mad.


  1. Walk with Lions

Cubs are taken from their big cat mothers to supply the industry for tourists to ‘walk with lions’. When the cats are considered too large to ‘safely’ interact with tourists, and too ‘tame’ to be released back to the wild, they are sold to hunting concessions to be killed as a ‘trophy’. The cats entire life was lived for the sake of making money from human ‘entertainment’.


  1. Tiger ‘Selfies’

Captive tigers used as ‘photographic props’ are typically kept on leads and punished in order to train and control them. Their claws and canines are removed through stressful procedures in order to prevent these magnificent creatures from mauling tourists.  Like the lions above, when these cats are no longer useful they are killed or sold for ‘other’ uses.


  1. Elephant Rides

Baby elephants are taken from their mothers and are beaten, hit, poked, prodded, and jabbed with sharp hooks, sometimes until bloody, to ‘break their spirit’ in training to do the most un-natural behavior – leaning down on their forelegs and carrying something on their back. As a result, these highly intelligent and sensitive beings suffer physical emotional and mental illnesses similar to those in humans.

animal entertainment requires abusive training tactics
Baby ellies are beaten in to submission for a life of entertaining us.


  1. Dancing Monkeys

When the young macaques are not being trained or performing they are often kept chained in small barren cages or outside on short chains. As the macaque grows the chain can become embedded into the skin leading to painful infections and disease. Most dancing monkeys live a solitary live (un-natural for these highly social animals) at the mercy of their owner.


  1. Snake Charming

Upon capture for the snake charming industry, venomous cobras are typically defanged with use of metal pliers before their venom ducts are either blocked or removed with un-sanitised equipment which can often result in painful infections. They spend their lives in small cages when they are not performing for our entertainment.


     7. Holding Sea Turtles

Sea turtle are naturally shy animals. Handling them causes stress which can weaken their immune system, increasing their susceptibility to disease. The fanatical flapping of their flippers as they try to escape their handler can injure their claws and cause fractures.


     8. Horse Drawn Carriages

“Forcing horses to pull oversized loads isn’t romantic—it’s cruel. Horses are forced to toil in all weather extremes, dodge traffic, and pound the pavement all day long. These gentle animals suffer from respiratory ailments because they breathe in exhaust fumes, and they develop debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. In some cases, horses have even dropped dead from heatstroke after working in scorching summer heat and humidity.” Peta


     9. Bull Fighting

Bulls who are used in bullfighting are deliberately weakened by being drugged and sometimes having their horns shaved down in order to disorient them before a fight.  Sandbags are dropped on their backs, and petroleum jelly rubbed into their eyes to blur their vision. The tortured bulls never stand a chance against the matador, who tries to kill them slowly with repeated stabbing. And we call this entertaining. 


    10. Rodeos

For the rodeo crowds amusement, electric prods, sharp spurs, and bucking straps are used to  to pinch the horses and cows flank area, in order to irritate and enrage the animals to make them seem wild. Countless animals have been severely injured and killed in rodeos. During bucking events, horses and bulls can suffer broken legs or run into the sides of the arena, causing serious injury and even death.

During roping events, a calf may reach a running speed of 27 miles per hour before being jerked by the neck to an abrupt stop by a lasso. This event has resulted in punctured lungs, internal hemorrhaging, paralysis, and broken necks.


    11. Circuses

Circus animals – elephants, big cats, monkeys, apes – suffer from lives of confinement, social deprivation, and violent training methods. Watching circus animals perform acts is as far away as you can get from understanding the natural behavior of these creatures in the wild. 

Animal entertainment
Most animal entertainment requires the ‘actors’ to live in isolation.

     12. Zoos

Even the best artificial environments can’t come close to matching the space, diversity, and freedom that animals have in their natural habitats. This deprivation, combined with relentless boredom and loneliness, causes many captive animals to loose their minds. Called “zoochosis,” the animals rock, sway, or pace endlessly, and some even mutilate themselves.

Some zoos and aquariums do rescue some animals and work to save endangered species, but most animals in zoos were either captured from the wild or bred in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection.


     13. Greyhound Dog Racing

Healthy greyhounds are killed or injured every year by the cruel dog racing industry. Racing The overworked dogs are forced to participate in this industry. Once the dogs begin their racing career, they are kept in small cages for more than 20 hours a day. Dogs who are considered too slow to race are sold to research facilities or killed.


dog racing for animal entertainment
Muzzled and forced to race for our ‘entertainment’.


Signs of light in the dark industry of animal entertainment


– Opposition to the dying sport of dog racing is spreading, (there are about than 20 tracks still operating in the United States).


– In May this year Hawaiian Gov. David Ige pledged to discontinue the issuance of permits for entertainment acts involving wild animals.


– More than 40 U.S. cities and 30 countries prohibit the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes, including circuses and other performing acts.


-Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced (also in May this year) that its 13 traveling elephant performers would be retired to a Florida sanctuary by 2018. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants,” Alana Feld, executive vice president for Feld Entertainment, the circus’s parent company, said.”


– As I write this post, Sea World’s attendance has dropped significantly over the past couple of years and the price of their stock has plummeted, due in part to education and awareness from the movie Black Fish. 


We are making an impact in the animal entertainment industry 


These are great changes. By expressing our concerns and boycotting these places of entertainment, we are moving the industry in the right direction.


But it’s not good enough. We must continue to put pressure on these practices by not supporting them, and educating others (Share this Post) about what really goes on until using any animal (wild or not) for the purposes of human entertainment is an unthinkable concept.


It couldn’t be easier for you to help us help animals:  Every time you shop on Amazon, use this link:

A portion of your spending will be donated to the most effective animal organizations across the world.

Any questions, email Lori at



Peta: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Born Free USA

Humane Society of the US

World Animal Protection




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4 Replies to “13 ‘Animal Entertainment’ activities to Avoid”

  1. Great article, Lori. Thank you for writing and posting.
    From a young age I never liked the circus or Sea World. Somehow instinctively I knew it was wrong. All wrong. All of these practices, including Barnum & Bailey, must cease this carnival of pain and sorrow. It’s just not right. We are aware now of what is being done and has been done for decades. It’s time to stop all of the abuse and hardship and clear insanity to all animals. How can we evolve as a species and contribute to this? We can’t. It must stop. Now and forever. I believe in a kinder heart and state.

  2. Lori, I can only wonder how difficult it was for you to write this because to read it just catapulted me into the horrific realities and fates that these beings face to our supposed benefit. Thank you for your courage and voice in support of those whose voice has been stifled and thwarted.

  3. I totally agree and ashamed I actually swam with “dolphins” 30 years ago. This was absolutely out of ignorance?? The only way to get this to stop is thru awareness and education. I believe our children will be huge changing this atrocity?? Our schools have such limited if any Environmental Education it’s a shame in itself?? If people understand the horrible damage done in each one of these situations I think they will have a sense of stewardship in this ineffable cause and might start to see a positive change??

  4. Thank you Lori for spreading the word about the horrific abuses of so many of our precious animals. It’s up to us who care and read your blog to keep spreading this information. Thanks for doing your (very big) part. I’ll try to do mine and hope others will also.
    One you left out is the method used to make horses “prance”. Tendons are cut, sharp objects are placed in the hoofs, and much worse!

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