Circus Tigers Endure Heavy Abuse and Neglect in Recent Investigation

As Ringling Bros. finally closes its doors forever this week, a recent undercover investigation offers a heartbreaking reminder that many animals are still being abused and exploited by circuses across the U.S.

The investigator witnessed violent treatment toward tigers — including one instance of a trainer whipping a tiger 31 times in less than two minutes.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released the investigation, which focused on ShowMe Tigers, a traveling tiger act owned by Ryan Easley. The act is used in circuses around the country, including Carden and Shrine Circuses.

According to the investigator, the tigers were confined to 13-square foot cages while traveling — where they slept, ate and had to relieve themselves. They were never let out, except to perform, or provided with a chance to exercise. While the investigator was present, the tigers’ exercise cage was never even unloaded from the trailer. Out of 22 days on the road, five of the tigers were denied food, and at least one tiger was denied veterinary care for an open wound on her face.

“Ryan Easley utilizes archaic training methods which entail fear, force and punishment. In my professional opinion, the tigers at ShowMe Tigers are suffering from psychological neglect and trauma on a daily basis,” said Jay Pratte, an animal-behavior expert, trainer, and wildlife consultant with 25 years of experience.

The HSUS has since filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is urging the agency to investigate violations of the Animal Welfare Act and take action, but there are still many others who need help.

“While it’s true that Ringling is going out of business, other circuses are still operating and using inhumane methods of handling wild animals. There’s no excuse or rationale for whipping tigers or other wild animals for these silly performances. All circuses should end their wild animal acts,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS.

Fortunately, as the public continues to turn against this mistreatment of animals, many countries around the world have put an end to using them as performers and there’s hope the U.S. will soon act on their behalf.

The recently reintroduced Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSA) would finally end the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling circuses across the U.S. for good, and send a powerful message that there’s nothing entertaining about watching some of the earth’s most iconic species being forced to perform ridiculous and uncomfortable tricks for our profit and amusement.


You can help by signing and sharing the petition urging Congress to pass this landmark legislation.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Telica R
Telica Rabout a year ago

Set them all free

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla1 years ago

It does not matter if the animals are endangered or not: wild animals do not belong to circuses, come on! Poor animals that suffer to be clowns for stupid and ignorant people.

Susan H
Susan H1 years ago


Jennifer H
Jennifer H1 years ago

On the side of Nicole H. "Tigers are an endangered species or not ? " These and all tigers should be protected under ESA.

Georgina Elizab M

Animals are more Human than Human Beings, and should be free in their own habitat

Wanda C
Wanda C1 years ago

I agree the abuse and mistreating all animals should stop.

Carl R
Carl R1 years ago


william M
william Miller1 years ago


Nicole H

Tigers are an endangered species or not ? How many times have we read causes, and signed petitions for the liberation of these animals from small zoos, circuses, etc.. But it never ends..... Needless to emphasize that ALL animals performing in circuses are severely stressed and traumatized. Their training is not based on rewarding but only by fear, beating, etc.. We have NO right whatsoever to put ourselves ABOVE any species of wildlife or domestic animals. Each time a new article is published, I wonder when f i n a l l y something will be done against those abusers. Are there no laws that forbid animals to be used for "acting" before an audience ? Is there no legislation that foresees that wildlife animals should not travel hundreds and hundreds of miles in way too small cages, without food or water, sometimes for days ?? This is animal abuse in the highest degree !! This must be stopped. Tigers, lions, elephants, horses, etc.. are not our toys, on the contrary. We have to treat them with the greatest respect, as they are not as sadistic as we are. This is an issue that is going on for decades and decades, but still nothing (or very very little) has changed in the meantime. But as I repeatedly said before : look into the mirror !! As long as we consider this abuse as an amusement for ourselves, these situations will remain. A normal thinking human in the 21st century should know that already for a long time tha