There are few sadder sights than a wild animal in captivity, particularly one that is being abused in order to entertain the public.
If you’re sensitive to such spectacles, then be warned that the video found below contains disturbing footage of an Amur tiger being mistreated by circus staff. The poor animal is shown being tied down so that circus-goers – including children and adults – can have their pictures taken while they “ride” the tiger’s back.
The source and date of the video is unknown, but it was reportedly shot at a circus in the city of Yiyang in the Hunan province of southern China.
(Warning: video contains footage some viewers may find disturbing.)
‘How cool is it to sit on a tiger?’
In the first part of the video, circus staff are seen tying the tiger to a raised platform while the announcer’s voice invites the audience to come forward and enter the tiger cage, saying things like: “How cool is it to sit on a tiger? Perhaps this can keep you away from the devils and bring you well too.”
In Chinese culture, the God of Wealth is symbolized by a tiger, and anyone who comes in close contact with one will receive good fortune.
After the tiger is bound to the platform, with its head pressed down and its legs tied tightly, around 30 people are allowed to come into the cage and take souvenir photos of themselves or their children sitting astride or standing next to the animal.
One child is heard squealing: “I’m scared, I’m scared,” as his mother lifts him up to be placed on the magnificent beast’s back.
Once the ordeal is finished, the workers untie the tiger, which immediately runs back to its own cage away from the circus ring.
It is believed that the tiger was “unwell” at the time the video was shot.
Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, were nearly hunted to extinction by the 1940s, when there were reportedly only around 40 individuals left living in the wild. The population began to grow again by the 1980s, and their numbers are now considered stable, with more than 500 currently living in the wild.
Despite improvements, animal cruelty in circuses persists
Circuses have long been criticized for practices that most would consider cruelty to animals. And although public awareness has increased and many circuses have cleaned up their act (so to speak) to an extent, there are still many abuses occurring – even among the biggest and most well-known circuses.
Improvements have been made within the circus industry regarding the treatment of animals, but for the most part it’s business as usual, with most of the animals spending the majority of their lives in shackles and in cramped conditions.
The living conditions of circus animals and their treatment would shock most people, but all most circus-goers see are the thrilling performances – not the squalid cages or the mistreatment behind the scenes.
For instance, tigers are still forced to jump through flaming hoops – to the delight of the audience, who are blissfully unaware that tigers are afraid of fire and are often burned during performances.
Most circus-goers are probably also unaware of the fact that circus animals spend roughly 96 percent of their lives in chains or cages.
The animals are transported in filthy, unheated or non-air-conditioned boxcars over long distances, and are often housed in cramped travel crates during the off-season. Such confinement causes harmful psychological effects and odd behavior, especially in captive large cats such as the Amur tiger.
In this modern day and age, isn’t it time we put a stop to such inhumane and barbaric treatment of animals? The entertainment value is nowhere nearly worth the suffering inflicted on these noble creatures who were meant to run free in the wilderness, far from cities and men.
It’s no wonder that so many circus cats and elephants finally turn on their human captors – who could blame them for it?