Report Cruelty | Tel: 0818 515 515 (Callers from outside of Republic of Ireland should use +353 43 33 25035) | Contact Us

ISPCA calls for a ban on using wild animals in circuses

Help us bring an end to this cruel and out-dated practice

The ISPCA is calling on our supporters to join The Big Stop campaign and help us in calling for a complete ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in Ireland.

The Big Stop Campaign includes our briefing document that can be downloaded here

The ISPCA believes that the complex welfare needs of wild animals such as elephants, tigers, lions, zebra and sea lions, cannot be met in the travelling circus environment. The ISPCA is opposed to the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.  Circuses serve no conservation purpose and fail to educate their visitors about the animals used by them.  Instead, sentient, intelligent wild animals are held for their lifetimes in substandard and wholly inadequate conditions for the sole purpose of performing for circus audiences. Animals can suffer from long-term psychological and physical problems as a direct result of their use in circus shows and many spend the majority of the year caged in beast waggons.  

Animals used in travelling circuses are subjected to constant travelling, cramped and barren accommodation, regularly forced to perform unnatural behaviours, as well as being denied the natural space, climate and social opportunities that their species requires. 

The Netherlands recently became the ninth EU country to introduce a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. As a result, two circuses recently travelled to Ireland with 65 animals, including three elephants and Bactrian camels. The ISPCA predicted that this would happen due to the lack of regulation in Ireland.

Don't let Ireland become the dumping ground for wild animal circuses as more EU countries move to ban this out-dated activity, which should be consigned to the history books.

Read more about the history of the use of wild animals in Irish circuses and why the ISPCA is concerned about this practice here (Large File, 12MB)

You can watch more videos on our YouTube channel here

Video - Tigers pacing in their cage.

Video - Tigers performing at the circus.

Video - Alapaca and bovines out of control at the circus

Video - ISPCA CEO Dr. Andrew Kelly launches The Big Stop campaign

At present, the use of any species of animal in circuses in Ireland is legal and effectively unregulated. The ISPCA firmly believes that the only way to prevent wild animal suffering in circuses is via the introduction of an outright ban on their use in the big top.

The ISPCA is launching the Big Stop Campaign in response to the serious welfare concerns associated with the use of wild animals in circuses and are calling upon the Irish government to implement a complete ban on the use of wild animals in circuses as soon as possible.

Can’t believe this is still legal? Neither can we!

Many people find it hard to believe that using elephants, tigers, lions and other wild animals in circuses is still legal. Dozens of countries around the world have already taken the positive step of banning the use of some or all animals in circuses. These include Bolivia, Colombia, Greece, Malta and the Netherlands, amongst others, but Ireland is yet to take action. In Ireland, twelve local authorities have introduced bans on the use of council land by circuses using some or all animals. But unless a full ban is introduced which prevents the use of wild animals in circuses altogether, the businesses continue to tour and the animals continue to live in inadequate conditions; with high potential for suffering.

YOU CAN HELP!  Join our fight to #EndCruelty and show your dedication to animal welfare by lending your support and sign our petition today!


YOU CAN ALSO TELL US ABOUT A CIRCUS NEAR YOU. If a circus visits your town, please contact us and let us know. We are interested to know where the circuses are, what animals they are travelling with, where they are pitched and any other information that you think might be useful. This information helps us to build a clear picture of the use of wild animals in circuses around the country and is vital to the campaign. Please email information to 

WRITE TO YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER. If an animal circus visits your town, writing to your local newspaper to share concerns about the welfare of the animals used by them is a good way to raise awareness in your local community. If you are not sure what to say, you can use our factsheet [LINK TO FACTSHEET] for some ideas. Most local newspapers have a dedicated email address that letters can be sent to the editor or you can send them in the post. If your letter is published, please send a copy to email so that we can share in your success! 

YOU CAN SUPPORT THE ISPCA BY MAKING A DONATION TO SUPPORT OUR CAMPAIGN. Our work for animals is only made possible by the generous support of people like you. Help us to campaign for wild animals in circuses by making a donation today and quote "ISPCA Big Stop Campaign". Your donation will ensure that we can continue to work hard for the animals that need us the most.

HELP TO SPREAD THE WORD! Don’t miss a thing by connecting with our social media feeds and our e-newsletter. Be the first to hear about our campaign developments and learn how you can get involved.

Watch our video here 

Sign up to the ISPCA e-newsletter

Sign our petition above

Download the ISPCA’s report on the use of wild animals in circuses (Large File, 12MB)

Download our circus factsheet 

Download our The Big Stop poster

Download the Welsh government's 2016 report, 'The welfare of wild animals in travelling circuses' (1.5MB)

Follow us on social media

Share this on social media