Use of Animals in Entertainment and Recreation – Position Statement
July 30, 2010
“The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) accepts the use of animals in entertainment and recreation only when the animals’ physical, social, and behavioural needs are being met. The CVMA opposes activities, contests, or events that have a high probability of causing injury, distress, or illness.”
1. The CVMA recognizes that concerns surrounding the use of animals for the purposes of entertainment and recreation may arise if the physical, social, or behavioural needs of animals are not being met (1-5).
a. Examples of animal use for entertainment and recreation include, but are not limited to, zoos, aquariums and other animal exhibitions; animals used for media purposes, circuses, rodeos; and equestrian and other competitive sporting events involving animals.
b. Animals performing, or on display in a traveling or static environment, may receive inadequate attention to their physical, social, and behavioural needs.
i. This can occur due to close confinement, lack of exercise and other physical requirements, inability to express natural behaviours, and/or lack of appropriate socialization and mental stimulation.
ii. The development of stereotypies is an outcome of such impoverished environments or conditions.
2. 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, 6, 7).
a. Entertainment and recreational activities should use animals that are appropriately bred, raised, habituated, and trained.
b. Animals should not be forced to perform actions or tasks that result in physical or mental distress or discomfort.
c. Activities that portray or force animals to perform in ways not characteristic of the species should be discouraged, so as not to harm the animal or mislead the public as to the true nature of the animal.
d. Training methods should be based on positive reinforcement, utilizing natural behaviours.
3. The CVMA recommends that all animals used for entertainment or recreation receive appropriate veterinary care by suitably experienced veterinarians. A veterinarian should be responsible for overseeing any competitive events where animal injury is possible.
4. The indiscriminant use of performance-enhancing drugs, or procedures that alter the conformation or function of animals for the purpose of competition is unacceptable.
5. The CVMA strongly supports the development of species appropriate indices of animal health and welfare during sporting and entertainment usage (7-13).
6. The CVMA advocates for the development and adoption of national standards for the management, husbandry, and transport of animals used for entertainment or recreation.
Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. CAZA Position Re: Use Of Wild or Exotic Animals for Performance, Shows or Acts. 2008. Available from http://www.caza.ca/media/Pdf/Policies/Oct%201%202008%20english%20policies/CAZA_Position_on_Animals_in_Shows_October_1,2008.pdf [last accessed April 29, 2013].
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(Revised July 2010)