Monday, June 24, 2024




In the realm of human entertainment, the symbiotic relationship between animals and society has been both a source of wonder and controversy and animals have been included in many human leisure activities. However, the use of animals for human amusement is a topic that stirs ethical debates and raises questions about the intersection of entertainment, conservation, and the well-being of these creatures. This complex interplay between the desire for amusement and the responsibility toward the welfare of animals continues to shape the evolving narrative of animals in human entertainment.

The use of animals for entertainment has a long history that dates back to ancient civilizations. The first recorded instances of animal entertainment can be traced to ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Greece. Many animals were and are still used for blood sports.


Here are some examples of where animals are used for entertainment and profit:


The concept of circuses, as we know them today, started to take shape in the 18th and 19th centuries. These traveling shows often featured trained animals performing tricks and acts, becoming a popular form of entertainment in many parts of the world. While some circuses have transitioned to animal-free shows due to ethical concerns, the use of animals in circuses has historically been a prominent form of entertainment.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, aquatic entertainment parks, like marine parks and aquariums, gained popularity. These venues showcased trained dolphins, seals, and whales performing in aquatic displays. Zoos date back even further.

Read more on the Circus here.

Do you remember how you hated lockdown?  Watch this video on the permanent lockdowns animals are forced into in these industries where they are imprisoned for life for human profit.


Horse racing is a popular sport where horses compete in races for entertainment and gambling. Our concerns include the welfare, the use of performance-enhancing substances and the potential for injuries, the disposal of the horses when they can’t be used for profit anymore and that is not all.


In some tourist destinations, animals like elephants, camels, and horses are used to provide rides to visitors. These practices have faced criticism due to concerns about the welfare of the animals, as they may endure long hours of work, inadequate living conditions, and physical strain. When you look at the anatomy of these animals, you will also be concerned.


Rodeos involve events where cowboys and cowgirls compete in various activities involving livestock, such as bull riding, calf roping, and bronc riding. These events can cause stress and injuries to the animals involved.


Falconry is an ancient practice where trained birds of prey are used to hunt animals. While it’s considered a cultural heritage in some regions, debates arise over the ethics of keeping wild birds in captivity for human entertainment. I also do not support the use of flight doves for competition and human entertainment.


Petting zoos allow visitors to interact with domesticated and sometimes exotic or wild animals. While they aim to provide hands-on educational experiences, I cannot in good conscience support it because for me, it is about the animals’ mental health, stress levels and exposure to potentially harmful human contact, and that is apart from the other welfare concerns.


The same goes for sanctuaries. True sanctuaries understand this well. Let us look at lions for example: Early removal of cubs from mom so they can be used for tourists’ interaction and petting farms is one.  The older cubs are used for lion walks some lions are sold and taken to be hunted or slaughtered for bones other lions are sold for breeding and this cycle repeats!


Catch-and-release fishing, as a form of human entertainment, involves anglers catching fish and then releasing them back into the water. This practice is pursued primarily for recreational enjoyment rather than for consuming the caught fish. People do it for the thrill of the fishing experience but how do you justify hurting animals on purpose, taking them out of the water, and more?

Read more on this cruel practice here.


These practices are ancient and much of it has gone “underground” in recent years since it is illegal, but it is still happening and a sad reality that animal welfare organizations deal with frequently. Read more on this topic here.


Apart from the fact that about 2800 healthy animals are euthanized (humanely killed) EVERY DAY IN SA because there are just not enough homes, exploiting animals for financial benefit, for status, or fun is one of the worst forms where animals are kept as prisoners for profit.  There are so many negative consequences when people prioritize profit over the well-being of animals.  No breeding is responsible or ethical when we have a massive overpopulation crisis. These animals are kept and bred (which brings its own risks) until they can’t make money for the person anymore and are then dumped at shelters and disposed of in other ways. 

Some entertainment industries, such as circuses with performing animals, can contribute to a cycle of captive breeding and the demand for wild animals, potentially encouraging illegal wildlife trade and unsustainable practices.

Read more on the problem breeding creates here.


Dog shows feature various breeds of dogs competing in events that evaluate their conformation to breed standards. These events are meant to showcase the dogs’ appearance, agility, and obedience too. Here, part of our concerns goes with the breeding for appearance and how that can lead to health issues, and how the emphasis on aesthetics can overshadow the animals’ well-being. In addition, these animals are also subjected to being caged and transported regularly which is not acceptable for us.


Hunting is deeply entrenched in the South African culture, but also an industry of entertainment that exploits animals and which warrants a whole article for itself, for example, trophy hunting, canned lion hunting, driven hunts, hunting with dogs who can get hurt and green hunting are some of the big concerns here. Fox hunting is also a topic on his own when it comes to cruelty. We likely won’t change everyone to vegans, hunt and eat, but when you start to do it for fun, trophy hunt, put up pictures of your killing to get likes for your ego then you are entering the dark psychology personality traits.

Read more on unethical hunting practices here.

These examples highlight just some of the diverse ways in which animals have been used for human entertainment, sparking discussions about ethics, animal welfare, and the evolving understanding of our responsibilities towards the creatures that share our planet.



The ethical debate surrounding the use of animals in entertainment stems from a range of concerns related to their well-being, rights, and dignity. Several key points contribute to this ongoing discussion, but for me, there should not even be a debate. Thousands, if not millions of animals are held captive to entertain humans and not one of them had a choice!


One of the primary concerns is the welfare of animals involved in entertainment activities. In the entertainment industry, animals are treated as commodities to generate profits. This focus on financial gain can lead to the animals being neglected, overworked, or subjected to harmful training techniques.

The captivity, training methods, transport, forcing them to do tricks, and living conditions in settings like circuses, theme parks, and zoos can lead to stress, physical harm, and psychological suffering for the animals. The confined spaces, unfamiliar environments, and sometimes unnatural behaviours demanded by entertainment routines can compromise their health and quality of life.


Animals have intrinsic value and deserve to live their lives free from exploitation and harm. Using animals as mere props for human amusement can be seen as a violation of their inherent rights to live according to their natural behaviours and environments. Animals are sentient beings capable of feeling pain, stress, and emotions. It is morally wrong to use them for human amusement and it goes against the principles of respecting the intrinsic value of all living creatures.


The methods used to train animals for entertainment purposes often involve coercion, punishment, and confinement. These techniques can cause physical and emotional distress, leading to negative consequences for the animals’ well-being. It doesn’t matter what the circus or zoo claim they do, what we see in these animals’ eyes is a life they do not choose.


Some argue that animals in entertainment can serve as educational tools, raising awareness about different species and their conservation needs. However, this argument is contentious, as it raises questions about whether animals’ educational value justifies their captivity and potential suffering. A three-year-old can tell you a lot about a dinosaur that they have never seen in real life.  I believe that education can be achieved without subjecting animals to stressful or unnatural conditions and that focusing on their conservation in the wild is more effective.


Many entertainment scenarios require animals to perform behaviours that are unnatural to them. For instance, circus animals may be trained to perform tricks, jump through fire, and balance on a ball, which doesn’t reflect their natural behaviours. We argue that this can confuse and stress the animals, impacting their mental and emotional health.


Removing animals from their natural habitats for entertainment purposes can disrupt ecosystems and contribute to the decline of certain species. Recognizing animals’ place within the larger ecological system is essential. Every species has a role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems, and using them for entertainment can disrupt these delicate interactions.


The decision to support or reject the use of animals for entertainment holds significant implications for the lessons we impart to our children. By choosing to support animal entertainment, we risk reinforcing notions of animals as mere commodities, potentially stifling empathy, and disconnecting them from the natural world. Such a stance can normalize the exploitation of sentient beings for amusement, teaching children that this is an acceptable part of human interaction with animals. It’s important to consider both the intended and unintended lessons they might learn.

Here are some potential lessons that supporting such practices might teach your child:

Animals as Commodities: Supporting animal entertainment can inadvertently teach children that animals are objects to be used for human enjoyment rather than sentient beings with their own needs, emotions, and rights.

Lack of Empathy: Children may not develop a strong sense of empathy towards animals if they see them being treated as props or performers rather than beings deserving of respect and care.

Disconnection from Nature: Encouraging entertainment that exploits animals might distance children from the understanding that animals are part of the natural world and ecosystems, contributing to a lack of appreciation for biodiversity and the environment.

Normalization of Exploitation: Children might come to see the exploitation of animals as a normal and acceptable part of human entertainment, potentially perpetuating a cycle of unethical treatment in the future.

Misunderstanding Animal Behaviour: Entertainment routines often involve animals performing behaviours that are unnatural to them. This can lead to misconceptions about animal behaviour and perpetuate stereotypes that don’t align with the animals’ true nature.


The decision to reject animal entertainment can be an opportunity to teach children about ethical considerations, critical thinking, and making informed choices based on principles and values.

Responsibility: Encouraging children to respect and value all forms of life fosters a sense of responsibility for the well-being of animals and contributes to their understanding of the interconnectedness of life on Earth.

Stewardship of the Planet: Teaching children about the importance of conserving and protecting animals and their habitats helps instill a sense of responsibility for the environment and future generations.

Critical Thinking: Engaging children in discussions about the ethics of animal entertainment encourages them to think critically and form their own opinions based on evidence and thoughtful consideration.

Ultimately, the messages you convey to your child about animal entertainment will shape their attitudes and beliefs about animals, their role in the world, and their responsibility toward them. Choosing to support ethical forms of entertainment or activities that prioritize the well-being of animals can help children develop empathy, compassion, and a deep respect for all living beings, their rights, and their dignity. The path we choose reflects our collective responsibility to nurture not only the well-being of animals but also the values we hope to pass down to the generations that follow.


Over time, public attitudes have evolved, with more people becoming conscious of animal welfare and rights. This shift in perspective has led to increased scrutiny of practices that may have been deemed acceptable in the past. With advancements in technology, virtual reality, and animatronics, there are alternatives to using live animals for entertainment. These alternatives can provide similar experiences without subjecting animals to potential harm or distress.

I have seen some amazing, captivating, and inspiring performances by humans, drawing us into a world of grace, strength, and mystery. These talented individuals had a choice to entertain you when the animals don’t!

In conclusion, the ethical concerns, animal welfare considerations, and the evolving understanding of animals’ role in our world have prompted many to advocate against using animals for entertainment. Advocates stress the importance of respecting animals as sentient beings and finding more compassionate and sustainable ways to appreciate and interact with the animal kingdom.

Encouraging open dialogue, critical thinking, and empathy is key to fostering a deeper understanding of the ethical considerations surrounding these complex issues. It’s important for individuals to be informed consumers and to support ethical practices that prioritize the health and welfare of animals over profit.

Changing the public’s perception of using animals for entertainment is a complex process that requires a combination of education, awareness-building, and advocacy. You can help:

  • Make informed choices that align with your values and contribute to positive change.
  • Support and promote legislative efforts aimed at improving animal welfare standards and prohibiting the use of animals as entertainment.
  • Help us raise awareness and educate others about this topic.
  • Promoting ethical alternatives can lead to a shift in attitudes and behaviours, ultimately contributing to a world where animals are treated with respect and compassion.
  • Most of all, stop supporting these industries that imprison animals for profit. If it pays it will stay!

It can never be ethical to use animals for human entertainment. Your hour of entertainment means a lifetime of enslavement for them. Don’t be captured by captivity!

Next week we will look at how “free to good home” ads are fuelling this massive overpopulation crisis.