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Animal Rights and Cruelty in The Circus Life

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There is no clowning around when it comes to animal cruelty in the circus life. Portuguese animal rights organizations, Accao Animal and Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos do Animal (LDPA), try to bring awareness to animal cruelty and protect animal rights through different campaigns. In this campaign, the ad features a large circus lion covered in clown face paint and trapped behind thick iron bars. The lion’s gloomy face and black background bring out the red, white, and green paint that was neatly coated on its’ fur. The happy face painted on top is an unrealistic representation of the actual emotion the animal is feeling underneath. Anyone who has ever been to a circus can relate to the advertisement from their involvement in attending shows. The Accao Animal and LDPA use mood, creative wording, and a distinct point of view from the animal to promote animal rights.

At first glance, the large lion is noticeably the focal point of the advertisement. The sad, suffering animal symbolizes all the other lives that the circus affects. The dark background in the cage brings out a gloomy mood that helps bring attention to the lion’s face covered in colorful paint. Looking more into the colors, red represents the bloodshed of the abused and mistreated animals. White represents the innocence of the creatures being forced to act in dangerous stunts. Green represents life and nature, which these animals do not get to experience. According to, circus animals spend 96% of their lives in cages and chains. With the attention still on the lion’s face, the audience can see a distinct contrast between the animal’s grave facial expression and the phony face painted on. This also reflects on the act that the circus puts on with the happy animals performing, but actually, it’s quite the opposite with horrendous drills and practices. The joyfulness that is presented to circus goers is all a hoax and the viewers can realize that through the different emotions on the lion’s face.

Once the audience’s focus moves, the audience is attracted by the creative and boldly stated wording used under the ad campaign’s name: “ANIMALS ARE NOT CLOWNS.” The use of word play helps keep the reader’s attention locked on the words. “Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls for the crack of the whip against the animal’s stinging wounds. A big round of applause for the flaming hoops, the injuries, and the electric shocks. Come and see the famed number of cages and tightly binding chains allowing no escape from endless training sessions. Laugh, applaud and join in with the repetitive choreographed routines typical of depressed animals under great stress. All the fun of the circus traveling from city to city exhibiting animals as human caricatures. Clowning around that’s no fun at all,” the campaign proclaims. This piece is effective with the help of the sarcastic and sharp tone of the words. The tone uses pathos to get the audience to feel sympathetic towards the animal’s real situation. The audience could feel guilty reading this because they might have been a witness to some of these performed cruelties. The final words, displayed in a playful banner, state: Animal Circuses: “Don’t be a part of the show.” The bolded words give one last strike at portraying the main point of protecting these creatures from the awful life of show business.

Ads like this one aren’t selling items, but a perspective. In this case, a circus slave’s perspective is displayed. Looking at the advertisement, the lion is behind bars. The image, in general, provides an example of pathos as it appeals to the viewer’s sense of humanity. These animals are locked up in cages when they should be free to roam in the habitat that they were once taken from. The ad refers to the animals as “human caricatures” which brings up the idea that people use the torture of these captivating creatures as entertainment. The ad portrays the living, breathing animals as almost like a cartoon that children might laugh at on television. It’s all fun and games until the audience realizes what goes on behind the scenes.

Advertisers create images that are appealing to the eye and that has a deeper meaning. Accao Animal and (LDPA) brought elements to the table that helped the audience get a better understanding of the campaign and persuade the audience to stop supporting the circus’ acts of cruelty. The variety of colors gives the ad a dark mood that can reflect the lion’s depressed state. The use of pathos appeals to the viewer’s emotions through creative wording which targets the wrongfully treated animals that are commonly overlooked in society. The way the audience sees the lion in bars and laughed at portrays the animal’s point of view. The “Animals are not Clowns” advertisement gives viewers a look into the neglect of circus life and gives them a reason to take a stand for animal rights.  

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Animal Rights and Cruelty in the Circus Life. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from
“Animal Rights and Cruelty in the Circus Life.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022,
Animal Rights and Cruelty in the Circus Life. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Dec. 2022].
Animal Rights and Cruelty in the Circus Life [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Feb 10 [cited 2022 Dec 8]. Available from:
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