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EXPOSED: The Dark Secret Behind China's Animal Circus Industry

Aug 06, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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A recent investigation from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has revealed the widespread violation of animal rights in traveling circuses and roadside zoos in Suzhou, China. Monkeys, bear cubs and big cats are exposed to physical and mental violence just to perform tricks for entertainment.
(Photo : Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

In the business of circuses in China, animal abuse is an everyday thing. A recent investigation from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has revealed the widespread violation of animal rights in traveling circuses and roadside zoos.

In August 2015, a PETA eyewitness visited Suzhou City in China, which is home to over 300 circuses. The said eyewitness secretly filmed the abuse and suffering that bear cubs, monkeys, lions and other animals experience at the hands of trainers and zookeepers.

Violence and Intimidation on Animals

In the video posted on the PETA website, bear cubs are seen chained around their necks and forced to stand up in an upright posture, letting them walk on their hind legs. If the bear cubs try to sit down, they will choke or hang themselves.

The PETA investigation also revealed that animal trainers use violence and intimidation to let bear cubs do tricks. The trainers hit, drag and hold the animals on their necks until they perfect balancing on seesaws, jumping over objects or walking using their hands.

In one footage, a monkey frantically tries to escape its trainer, who strikes its head and chains its neck with a rope in order to teach the animal tricks. Meanwhile, lions and tigers, who are naturally fierce animals, have inculcated a fear of humans. These big cats are disciplined using heavy poles.

Severe Living Conditions

Apart from the violence they receive, bear cubs and big cats are kept in cramped and dirty iron cages, where they could be seen crying and attempting to get out from the iron bars.

Monkeys kept in tiny cages exhibited distress and self-destructive behaviors such as pacing around and chewing their arms.

Animal Laws in China

Beijing has amended the Wildlife Protection Law, which is focused on humans' use of wildlife. Some cities also have laws regarding treatment on dogs and cats. However, China has no specific federal law with regards to the welfare of animals, National Geographic reports.

To add to the growing issue, amendments to the law have allowed animal performances in privately owned circuses, zoos, etc., which totally contradict a 2011 directive from the China Forestry Bureau that puts an end to animal circus performances.

Change, One Step at a Time

PETA notes that one major thing to help stop animal cruelty is to inform the public about what's going on behind the scenes, as well as avoid animal circuses.

In China, youth organizations have been slowly building their campaign against animal welfare movement. They have successfully banned seal importation, American rodeos and plans of a foie gras factory. However, more work needs to be done to ultimately stop animal cruelty.

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