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We might like to think the wild animals featured in a circus, movie, TV show or commercial are enjoying themselves. But behind the scenes, the methods used to train these animals are often abusive, and they may be chained or confined for hours on end.

No matter what kind—elephants, lions, tigers or bears—the needs of wild animals can’t be met in traveling shows. And there’s always risk: If an animal tries to escape or lash out, it can be deadly for the trainer, the audience, and the animal.

Once these animals become too dangerous or old to perform, there may be no safe refuge for them.

With so many better choices in entertainment, there's no need to use wild animals. If you see a captive animal being treated cruelly, speak up. You can also support stronger laws to protect wild animals. And use your pocketbook to advocate for alternatives such as animatronics in films and animal-free circuses.

Behind the Big Top

The greatest show on earth means pain and suffering for its four-legged performers.

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