CVMA | Documents | Animals in Entertainment and the Arts - Position Statement
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Animals in Entertainment and the Arts - Position Statement

July 9, 2019

The CVMA has developed two position papers entitled Animals in Sport and Competition and Animals in Entertainment and the Arts. Although superficially there could appear to be overlap between the scope of the two documents, in that humans watch sport for entertainment, the critical difference is in the animals’ activity in these two situations. When considering the animal welfare implications of an activity, it is what the animals do and experience that matters. The risks to the welfare of the animals are markedly different when they are used for sport and competition, and when they are used for entertainment or in the arts. For example, the Entertainment position is meant to address animals performing in a circus or on a film stage. The Sport and Competition position would cover dogs running in a sled dog race or horses on a track. Some activities such as a traveling rodeo would need to be looked at through the lens of both position statements. Definitions of “entertainment” and “sport and competition” are not included within the position statements as there are no agreed-upon definitions in the literature.

Position

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) accepts the humane and ethical use of animals for entertainment and in the arts. The CVMA strongly supports progressive implementation of strategies to mitigate risks involved with the care and management of animals used in entertainment and the arts, to promote sound physical, social and psychological well-being of the animal, and to find alternatives which end avoidable harm and suffering.

Summary

  • Animal health and welfare is paramount with respect to the use of animals for entertainment and in the arts. Animals must be treated humanely and not be subjected to situations where they may be exposed to intentional or avoidable pain, injury, suffering, illness, or distress. The CVMA requires that the animals’ long-term welfare be considered before being obtained for use in entertainment or the arts extending to the development of a retirement plan.
  • Animals must not be forced to perform actions or tasks that result in physical or mental distress or discomfort and/or are beyond the physical, social or behavioural capacity of the individual animal or species.
  • All animals used for entertainment or in the Arts should receive veterinary oversight and timely care by suitably experienced veterinarians through an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship. In addition, animals should be cared for by skilled and knowledgeable personnel.
  • The CVMA strongly supports research on the health and welfare implications for animals involved in entertainment and the arts.
  • The CVMA strongly advocates for the continued development and adoption of national standards and policies for the housing, management, husbandry, training, transport, and biosecurity of animals used for entertainment and artistic purposes.
  • The CVMA strongly advocates for continuing education to ensure that animals are attended by skilled and knowledgeable personnel.

Background

  • Animals must not be forced to perform actions or tasks that result in physical or mental distress or discomfort and/or are beyond the physical, social or behavioural capacity of the individual animal or species.
  • At all times, risk of injury, suffering, illness, and distress must be mitigated during the care and management of animals.
  • The CVMA strongly supports husbandry, housing, training, display, and performance practices that promote and meet the species-specific physical, nutritional, behavioral, and social needs of the animal (1-3).

2. The CVMA recommends that all animals used for entertainment and in the arts be appropriately bred, fed, raised, habituated, and trained by skilled and knowledgeable personnel. In addition, these animals should receive appropriate veterinary oversight and care by suitably experienced veterinarians. When available, national and industry codes of practice must be applied to ensure sound husbandry practices (1-7).

  • Animals must be offered a species appropriate diet that avoids nutritional imbalances and deficiencies.
  • Appropriate and varied species-appropriate behavioural enrichment opportunities must be implemented to prevent repetitive, ritualistic, or self-harming behaviours (stereotypies), and to promote positive welfare and quality of life.
  • During periods of confinement, opportunities to exercise and express normal species-specific behaviours must be offered at regular intervals (e.g., when confined for traveling).

3. In all areas where animals are kept or used, humane and ethical treatment must be paramount, and animals must be portrayed and utilized with respect (1-5,8).

  • The CVMA does not support activities that portray or force animals to perform in ways not characteristic of the species.
  • Training methods should be based on positive reinforcement, which emphasizes normal behaviour. Acclimation or habituation can decrease stress associated with some events or situations.
  • The non-therapeutic use of drugs or non-nutritive agents to alter or enhance training or performance, or procedures that alter the conformation, appearance or function of animals for entertainment or in the arts is unacceptable. Any use of drugs or other agents must be compliant with regulatory standards.
  • Periods of training, performance, and display should be limited to timeframes that support good health and welfare. Animals must be given adequate space and opportunity for-self directed rest from training, performance, or display (1-5). The development of stereotypies can be the outcome of impoverished environments and conditions.

4. The CVMA requires that the animals’ long-term welfare be considered before being obtained for use in entertainment or the arts extending to the development of a retirement plan. Consideration should be given to whether very young or very old animals are suitable. Every effort should be made to re-purpose or re-home animals found unsuitable for entertainment or artistic events by virtue of health, age or temperament, but otherwise judged to be in good health. Euthanasia should be considered as an option only when there are significant welfare or on-going care issues. Euthanasia as a means to address the situation where an animal can no longer perform should be employed only where circumstances preclude animal retraining, repurposing, rehoming or retirement. The welfare of the animal is paramount in all decision-making.

5. Conformity with infectious and zoonotic disease control protocols (prevention, housing, quarantine, treatment, recovery, and clearance assurance) is essential when individual animals and populations of animals are introduced or mix during entertainment or artistic events. Biosecurity protocols must be followed by both participants and event organizers to avoid or minimize the spread of infectious diseases.

6. The CVMA strongly supports the development of criteria to assess the health and welfare of animals used in entertainment and the arts (4,9-12).

7. The CVMA strongly advocates for the continued development and adoption of provincial, national or international standards and codes of practice for the training, management, husbandry, and transport of animals used for entertainment and in the arts. Periodic external third-party review and assurance of animal welfare standards is recommended.

8. The CVMA opposes public contact with animals that are ill, of unknown health status, or are of a vulnerable age (e.g., neonatal to juvenile nondomestic carnivores and non-human primates). Even when animals appear healthy, measures must be in place to prevent transmission of zoonotic diseases when there is human-animal contact.

References

  1. American Veterinary Medical Association. Animals Used in Entertainment, Shows and for Exhibition. Available from: https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Animals-Used-In-Entertainment-Shows-and-Exhibition.aspx Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  2. Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums. CAZA Policy on the use of animals in educational programming. Available from: http://caza.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CAZA-Policy-on-Use-of-Animals-in-Educational-Programming.doc.pdf Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  3. Iossa G, Soulsbury CD, Harris S. Are wild animals suited to a travelling circus life? Animal Welfare 2009;18:129-140. Available from: http://www.santuariodeelefantes.org.br/docs/Animal_Welfare_circus_2009.pdf Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  4. Nevill CH, Friend T.H. A preliminary study on the effects of limited access to an exercise pen on stereotypic pacing in circus tigers. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2006;101:355-361. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159106000645 Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  5. Nevill CH, Friend TH. The behaviour of circus tigers during transport. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2003;82:329-337. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159103000662 Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  6. Price EE, Stoinski TS. Group size: Determinants in the wild and implications for the captive housing of wild mammals in zoos. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2007;103:255-264. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159106001870 Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  7. Rooney NJ, Cowan S. Training methods and owner–dog interactions: Links with dog behaviour and learning ability. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2011;132:169-177. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159111000876 Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  8. Toutain PL. Veterinary medicines and competition animals: The question of medication versus doping control. Handb Exp Pharmacol 2010;199:315-339. Available from: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-10324-7_13 Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  9. Berger A. Activity patterns, chronobiology and the assessment of stress and welfare in zoo and wild animals. Int Zoo Yearb 2011;45:80-90. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1748-1090.2010.00121.x/abstract Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  10. Wielebnowski N. Stress and distress: Evaluating their impact for the well-being of zoo animals. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:973-977. Available from: http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.2003.223.973?journalCode=javma Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  11. Korte SM, Olivier B, Koolhaas JM. A new animal welfare concept based on allostasis. Physiol Behav 2007;92:422-428. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17174361 Last accessed November 6, 2017.
  12. Moberg GP. Biological response to stress: Implications for animal welfare. In: Moberg, GP, Mench JA, eds. The Biology of Animal Stress. New York, New York: CABI 2000:1-21. Available from: https://www.cabi.org/vetmedresource/ebook?ebook=20002214774 Last accessed June 11, 2019.
  13. Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, Position Statement on Euthanasia. Available from: https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/euthanasia Last accessed June 11, 2019.

(Revised June 2019)