Psychologists’ Statement

Dolphins in aquatic ‘circus’ type show – how can this promote empathy with a species?

Psychologists’ statement on the anti-pedagogical value of the abuse of animals in circuses and performances

Noting that:

Coexistence with animals, with their dignity as living beings, is a profound and authentic need of the human species;

Relationships we establish with animals, far from being neutral, can have an effect on emotion and thought;

A relationship with animals is part of undisputed importance in the growth, development and education of children;

The undersigned psychologists express reasoned concern over the pedagogical, educational and psychological consequences of children who attend circuses and other shows in which animals are improperly kept and used.

Indeed, these experiences entail that the animals are deprived of freedom, kept in unnatural settings under conditions not respectful of their needs, and are forced to perform unnatural behaviour.

Such contexts, far from facilitating and promoting learning about the animals’ nature and needs, may promote a lack of respect for living beings, lead to the denial of pain messages and hinder the development of empathy which is critical during the development and growth process as they may solicit an incongruous response – that is, amusement and joy – to punishment, discomfort and injustice.

The undersigned psychologists are dedicated to promote the psychological well-being of the individual, the group and the community of animals, and consequently call for a radical change of these traditions to ban the use of animals in circuses and other shows.

Promoter: Annamaria Manzoni –Psychologist, psycho-therapist, grapho-analyst, hypnosis-therapist, anthrozoology scientist; writer and essayist.

The statement has been signed by over 100 psychologists
(full list is available here)


 Melanie Joy, Professor of psychology and sociology at the University of Massachusetts (Boston); author of articles and books, like the best seller “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows “.

 Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Psychoanalyst with PhD on Sanskrit and Indian studies, Project Director of the Freud Archives. Expert on animal psychology. Author of several international bestsellers, like “When Elephants Weep”.

Fulvio Scaparro, Professor of psychopedagogy and psychology at the University of Milano. Expert on childhood, adolescence, elderly and ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution). Writer, columnist and journalist.  

 Camilla Pagani, Researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technology, National Research Council; Fellow at Denver University, the Graduate School of Social Work, Institute for Human-Animal Connection. 

 Marco Poli, Director of the Institute of Psychology, Milano University; Doctor and Psychologist.  

 Stefano Federici, Associate Professor of General Psychology, University of Perugia; 

 Chiara Ripamonti, Researcher on Clinical Psychology, University of Milano; Referee for the Journals “Ricerche di Psicologia” and “Psicologia della salute”, Franco Angeli editions. 

 Domenico Barrilà, Psychologist and Psychoanalyst; 

 Valeria La Via, Psychologist and Psychoanalyst; 

 Laura Occhini, Researcher, University of Siena;   

 Marina Valcarenghi, Psychologist and Psychoanalyst; 

 Marcella Danon, Psychologist and Journalist; 

 Mariangela Ferrero, Psychologist and Psychotherapist.