Bears On Motorbikes No More? Czech Officials Push for Circus-Animal Ban

The Czech Republic is among a dwindling number of EU countries that allow the use of animals in circus acts

Katrina Modrá

Written by Katrina Modrá Published on 23.10.2018 09:43:38 (updated on 23.10.2018) Reading time: 2 minutes

Circus season is currently in full swing in the Czech Republic; here in the capital, traveling circus caravans pop up around the city in the autumn months, offering old-fashioned entertainment and exotic performances under the big top.

While circuses liked the famed Original Berousek National Circus seemingly promise wholesome family fun, they’re also a source of great controversy, frequently protested by activists who say they exploit animals.

In a reaction to the intensifying protests against circus animals, the Czech Ministry of Agriculture, in the framework of the amendment to the Animal Welfare Act, has proposed a total ban on animal dressage, the practice of training animals to perform elaborate routines.

The amendment has undergone inter-ministerial commentary and is currently in review by the Ministry. Upon their decision, a transitional period and specific conditions for the ban on animals in circuses is expected to be established.

The Ministry of Agriculture, in the past, has banned dressage for newly born primates, pinnipeds, cetaceans, rhinoceroses, hippos, and giraffes. It now wants to extend the restrictions.


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A ban similar to that proposed by Czech officials is currently enforced in dozens of EU countries.

“In Europe, the dressing of all animals in circuses is forbidden, for example, in Italy, the Netherlands, or Greece. In other countries, such as Germany or Poland, the ban is intensively debated,” said Vojtěch Bílý, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, in a press release.

Photo via Facebook / @cirkusberousek

Commenting on the proposed measure, Jiří Berousek, director of the National Circus Berousek told, “I think it is absolute nonsense.”

“The Czech Republic has already issued a regulation on the protection of animals, the observance of which costs us a lot of money. If we meet all the standards, I see no reason to restrict it. Our animals live a full life,” he added.

Together with other circuses, Berousek will protest against the proposed ban. “We will fight to prevent this from happening in Mexico, where a similar ban has led to the killing of several hundred circus animals,” he said.

According to the website Czech Circuses, there are 17 circuses operating in the Czech Republic.

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