A lot of people have childhood memories of circuses filled with acrobats and terrifying clowns and bears doing somersaults on elephants as they jump through flaming hoops.
Unfortunately, a lot of those animals don't get treated as well as a lot of people expect. Circuses are notorious for mistreating animals, and animal rights groups have long battled to bring circus cruelty to public attention.
Seeing animals return to their natural habitats, or even experience things like grass for the first time, shows just how far removed a lot of these animals' lives are from what they should be. Circus animals are subjected to enormous amounts of travel, and it's virtually impossible to build enclosures for them that are large enough to be comfortable.
The Netherlands just passed a law that will try to change all of that though. Here's how.
According to Four Paws, the Netherlands has banned circuses from keeping wild species like giraffes, elephants, tigers, lions, zebras, sea lions and primates. This will affect the 16 of the 22 active circuses in the country, and follows legislation already passed in Austria, Greece, and Belgium. The Dutch animal rights group Wild Animals Out of the Tent had been lobbying for the ban for the last nine years and will help circuses help find permanent homes for the animals transitioning out of the circuses.
Organizations like the Humane Society and the ASPCA are fighting to achieve similar bans in the United States as well. Change has been happening on state levels, particularly in California, where a law was recently passed to protect elephants from being abused with bullhooks. Hopefully, the trend of circus and animal show regulation continues.