Animals in Entertainment

Policy statement: Animals in entertainment and zoos

In modern society, people have few opportunities to see wild or exotic animals, let alone touch or work with them. While people can learn much about animals from books, movies, and the Internet, there is nothing that will open human eyes, minds, and hearts to these wonderful creatures more quickly and thoroughly than seeing an animal in the flesh and observing its behavior in a habitat display or with a trainer or handler.

Circuses, zoos, wild animal parks, aquariums, and private entertainers and foundations provide opportunities where people can see animals in these situations and thereby foster understanding of and appreciation for other species. NAIA supports the institutions that responsibly house, breed, train, and otherwise care for these animals, pursue the worthy goals of species conservation and public education, and exemplify the mutually beneficial relationships that can exist between individual trainers and their animals. NAIA also opposes legislation and regulations that would rob people and animals of these opportunities.

Opportunities for housing and breeding endangered species are scant worldwide, a circumstance that adds to the intrinsic value of zoos, wildlife parks, and other wildlife conservation organizations and agencies. NAIA supports the scientific work that these entities do in order to develop reproductive strategies and health profiles to conserve species; prepare populations for reintroduction when practical and appropriate; and educate the public about the relationship between wild animals, people, and the natural environment and the economic and social values of sustainable use of natural resources.

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Performance animals

The sight of a well-conditioned animal doing a job it was bred and trained to do is awesome. Sports such as rodeo, dog sled racing and touring, horse racing, Greyhound racing, weight pulls, draft contests for horses and dogs, and other events that prove the skill and stamina of hunting, herding, coursing, and agility dogs and the suitability of dogs, horses, and livestock as working, breeding, or performance animals demonstrate extraordinary skills and abilities resulting from behavioral training. NAIA supports the responsible and humane raising, breeding, and training of animals for these performance events and activities; opposes efforts to restrict or ban such events based on isolated cases or on claims of inherent cruelty, and will work with groups to help make improvements within sports and industries.

Unfortunately, misunderstanding of the training and use of animals in these endeavors has led to a well-orchestrated crusade designed to end human interaction with performance animals. Strategies employed by activists range from claims that training and performance are inherently cruel to demonstrations and campaigns against specific individuals, organizations, sports venues, regulatory agencies, and corporations that sponsor or otherwise support these events. NAIA encourages those involved with performing animals to continue to increase their knowledge and expertise, to educate the public about the high standards to which they adhere, and to protect the working abilities of domestic animals through training and competition.

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Be sure to see these additional NAIA policy statements
Pet Ownership / Dogs / Pets and the Community / Guardianship / Animals in Entertainment
Animal husbandry / Animal Careers / Agriculture / Research / Wildlife / Mandatory Spay/Neuter Legislation