Stop This Circus From Exploiting Polar Bears on International Polar Bear Day

A lot of petitions on Care2 address animal welfare. Recently, we’ve seen scores that ask a Russian circus to stop using polar bears in their routines. One Care2 member created a petition that generated more than 7,000 signatures in the last few days, raising awareness just in time for International Polar Bear Day.

While polar bears technically belong roaming across the Arctic Circle, the Ivanovo circus forces polar bears to roar into microphones (“sing”), dance, ice-skate and play football, all while wearing muzzles around their snouts.

Naturally, this disturbed petition creator Yelena Truax. She urged the circus to stop its polar bear performances and release the animals to a sanctuary immediately.

“[These] lovely and independent animals, they must live their lives in the Arctic,” Truax writes, asking why people are holding wildlife in captivity and mercilessly using them for entertainment. “It’s awful!”

President of Animal Defenders International Jan Creamer agrees.

“Most people agree that reducing such ­intelligent predators to nothing more than tormented puppets is wrong and these animals have no place in a circus,” she said according to the Mirror Online.

Currently 31 countries have restrictions on wild animals in circuses. Russia isn’t one of them. The country is among a handful of areas that have used polar bears in circuses, including the much too tropical Puerto Rico. Luckily, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended up confiscating the seven bears that were a part of the Suarez Bros. Circus a few years back.

The polar bears at the Russian circus may even face abuse beyond humiliating performances. Animal rights activists say they’ve witnessed Russian handlers beating the bears with metal poles and burning them with cigarettes, as well as chaining cubs to the wall so they’d stand upright instead of on all fours in some cases.

“Many cubs die before the harsh training even begins because of the stress of capture, grueling ­transportation conditions, food ­deprivation, dehydration and extremely rough handling,” said Elisa Allen of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals according to the Mirror Online.

To make matters worse, only 26,000 polar bears are left in the wild. Climate change is the largest threat they face, with warming temperature melting the sea ice they call home. A study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature predicts habitat loss will kill 30 percent of them by the year 2050.

Funnily enough, handlers from the circus claim they treat the polar bears like their children and that they’re saving those that perform for them from global warming.

Global warming makes ice move and bears often can’t reach the seals’ rockery—and die. If a baby bear is wandering around the icy ‘desert’ alone, without a mother bear, it means something happened to her and in any case the end of this baby will be very sad,” trainer Yulia Denisenko says in another Mirror interview. “And when an animal is in the circus, it grows in specially created conditions. They are fed, washed and cared for.”

If there’s something you want to change in your local or global community, you too can start a petition like Yelena Truax and make a difference.


Photo Credit: Thinkstock


william Miller
william Miller1 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

CLAUDE Hennie2 years ago

It's a shame. Russians are stupid and cruel. But not all of them. Too much vodka, indeed

Pablo B.
.2 years ago

already signed

Virginia Smith
Virginia Belder2 years ago


Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Petition signed thanks for sharing

Neville B.
Neville B2 years ago

Neville B.
Neville B2 years ago

Dear Philip Watling and Annie Sousa,

Given your previous good posts can I point out that Milton Keynes and Bermuda are British, and we, ie the British, still have animal circuses, despite our 'majority'-elected Prime Minister 'promising' to stop them; we still have fox-killing (it's not hunting) and landfill grouse-shooting; we have another badger-cull coming up; we are still headed towards removing ourselves from the Human Rights Act and still trade with the Saudi and Chinese governments (including arms and torture equipment). Does that mean 'the British' are "backward" and "could not give a shit" about animals and people? Yes and no, some do, some don't but don't lump us all in it together, because we're not, and neither are 'the Russians'. For all I know this petition may be by a Russian. Certainly there are Federation members in Care2 supporting humanitarianism.

So can we PLEASE stop the divisive generalisations that only feed racist stereotypes.

Philip Watling
Philip Watling2 years ago

Russians - what a surprise! Don't forget though that in spite of their military might they are quite backward and only doing what we were doing not even 50 years ago...

Annie Sousa
Annie Sousa2 years ago

When I was in Russia, I saw posters everywhere for circus's, its obviously big business there. They all depicted tigers, lions (jumping though fire hoops) and elephants walking on their hind legs), like our circus's back in the day. We got the message and we can only hope that eventually the Russians will, but I sincerely doubt it. Russians could not give a shit about animal rights, they dont give a shit about human rights, so God help the animals. They are such an arrogant and rude race of people that trying to talk to them about this kind of thing would fall on completely deaf and resentful ears. I can hear them now...... "Nyet ...... you Westerner's cannot tell a Russian what to do". I have signed the petition, but really, can you see anyone of those corrupt Russian officials caring one jot? Sickening and incredibly sad, but I think not.