People ask, ‘why do animals in the circus get abused?’ – so I’m going to try and answer the question in this post. I accept that we all have our own points of view.
The first point to make is that not all animals in circuses get abused. However, you can successfully argue that the simple fact of using animals, invariably iconic and large animals, in a circus is automatically animal abuse because their life is spent in cages and captivity while they are trained to entertain spectators. All of this is so unnatural that it is very likely to cause stress and depression.
This leads me to another reason why circus animals are sometimes abused in their interactions with humans.
As mentioned, the circus animal has been placed in a situation where he/she is meant to entertain people. The animals are being used by people. This means that they are dominated by people who want to make money out of them. This is one short step to overt, individual acts of animal abuse.
I would argue that circus workers are sometimes insensitive to animal emotions and health. They might not believe that animals feel pain and have emotions.
Often the workers at zoos are uneducated. Rarely they are unpleasant people who enjoy their domination over large, strong animals. Perhaps they are weak people who want to take out their anger on the animals. I believe also that, rarely, some circus people like to dominant and humiliate tigers for their satisfaction as it boosts their weak ego.
Another point worth making is that circus big cats are dangerous and intimidating. Humans working with them are likely to be anxious and fearful. Those emotions can lead to aggressive behavior towards the animals.
But the underlying culture of circus life with respect to animals fosters abuse. It only takes the presence of the wrong type of worker to turn this culture into animal abuse. The circus culture feeds animal abuse because it is an abuse of animals.
Beautiful, brave and strong, large wild cats are reduced to performing party tricks inbetween living in small, seedy cages. It depends how you perceive it all. Many people love to see circus animals. Kids certainly do. But kids are not yet educated enough to see the reality of it.
The idea of circus animals is passé. It is over. We did that in an age when humans were less enlightened. Circus animals are being phased out in the West.
Circus owners would argue that they do all that they can for animal welfare. And they genuinely believe it sometimes. It is a failed argument because what they are doing, as mentioned, is by default an abuse of animals from any standpoint. As soon as people start to directly use animals (as opposed to watching them in the wild) they have begun to exploit and abuse them. This can lead to further abuse through disprespect and low ethical standards.