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What is the RSPCA’s view on performing animals?

There are many instances where animals form part of a performance, such as in circuses, bird of prey shows, horse shows, rodeos and magic shows. In order to perform, these animals may have to undergo regular transport, confinement and specialised training, as well as potential disturbance from the audience watching the performance. The impact of these experiences on the welfare of the animal involved will depend on the species, temperament, and the way in which this training and handling is managed. The welfare of performing animals is the responsibility of those who train and own them.

RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of animals for any kind of entertainment, exhibition or performance where injury, suffering or distress is likely to be caused. Welfare issues can arise as a result of the performance itself, but also through training, transport, housing and handling associated with such use. The welfare of the animal must be kept paramount at all times, before, during and after any performances.

Training methods for animals used for performing should be based on techniques using natural instincts and positive reinforcement. Aversion therapy or physical punishment must not be use because of the potential for cruelty. It is also important that animals used in performances are treated with respect and not objectified or subjected to indignity or ridicule.

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Updated on May 2, 2019
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