(Note: this video refers to CAPS as this was our charity name at the time)

A man moves around the enclosure, carrying two sticks which he swings and bangs together to get the animals to move. Lions, tigers, leopards and even a polar bear are at his command, being made to perform tricks for the paying public who watch through the cage on the other side.

Zara the polar bear rocks from side to side on her podium. She twists her head, dribbling in front of the onlooking people. She is made to stand on her back legs up against the cage separating her from the crowd.

A monkey called Lily is held by a belt around her waist by her handler, she sits on the stage staring out at the crowd and bright lights of the room.

A sloth is brought out to join her, hanging upside down on a stick carried by two of his ‘keepers’. Snakes, birds, raccoons and other animals, being forced to perform in so-called “educational” shows.

A meerkat, tiger, hyena, pace back and forth, again and again, weaving in circles mentally disturbed by their captivity.

All of this was filmed at the premises of the company ‘Amazing Animals’. This company supplies the TV and media industry with animals to be used as animal ‘actors’, with their animals being used in a range of Hollywood films and BBC TV shows.

Read the Daily Mail coverage here

Freedom for Animals investigators visited an open day at their premises ‘Heythrop Zoo’ in September 2015, after being contacted by concerned members of the public who had visited there and were shocked by what they witnessed.

The footage from the shows at Amazing Animals could have been taken at any wild animal circus around the world. That the BBC and Hollywood film producers hire this company is deeply troubling.

Who are Amazing Animals?

Amazing Animals have supplied animals for films like ‘Prince of Persia’, ‘Clash of the Titans’, and TV advert clients include Harvey Nichols, Nokia, Freestat and Costa Coffee.

Freedom for Animals and campaign partners spoke out over the BBC’s decision to hire circus-linked company, Amazing Animals, to provide wild animal “actors” in its show which documented the history of Chester Zoo.

Owner of Amazing Animals is a Mr Jim Clubb, a well-known animal circus trainer, part of the Chipperfield circus family who have a long history of using animals. He and his business were exposed by Freedom for Animals in recent years for taking on four white lion cubs from UK zoo, West Midland Safari Park, and then sending them to join a Japanese circus.

Expert’s have expressed their opinion on our shocking footage:

“The use of animals in any form of entertainment is outdated, unethical and unnecessary to say the very least. Intelligent and emotional animals including lions, tigers and polar bears who travel great distances can only lead lives of boredom and misery when forced to live in a cage and trained to perform unnatural tricks on demand.

Zara, the polar bear, was showing clear signs of stress when being made to perform. This is clear from her repeated pacing on the spot and repeatedly shaking her head, classic stereotypic behaviours. To think she lived and died in captivity is tragic.”

— Freedom for Animals Patron Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, author of many books including Why dogs hump and bees get depressed and Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence (marcbekoff.com)

“We are extremely disappointed  to see that primates are still used as entertainers in the UK.  This practice is highly detrimental to the welfare of the individuals involved in ways that can manifest throughout their lifetimes. This macaque named Lily is tied on a lead in front of a noisy and laughing crowd, away from others of her kind. This does not offer a “suitable environment”  or the “ability to exhibit normal behaviour patterns” which are required by the Animal Welfare Act . She is a wild social animal!

In addition to welfare concerns, we also believe that showing a monkey doing tricks in this way may even have a negative impact on the survival of animal populations in the wild, by increasing demand for that species as pets and/or by diminishing concern for their conservation in the wild.

The on-set supervision of a vet and absence of blatant physical abuse does not change the fact that this industry is a cruel one, and being used as actors severely compromises the welfare of primates."

— Cordelia Britton, Campaigns and Welfare Officer, Wild Futures primate rescue and conservation

Investigation published in November 2015.