Social Media Outrage As Video Of Endangered Rhino Used In Circus Goes Viral

The white rhino is technically classified as a 'near-threatened' species
Mafa the Rhino
Trainer Sergey Nesterov has a whip in hand during the 'performances' (Image: Facebook)

Commenters are in an uproar as a video of Mafa, an endangered white rhino forced to perform in a Russian circus, circulates on social media.


The rhino - technically classed as 'near-threatened' with roughly 20,000 remaining globally – serves as entertainment, performing 'tricks' physically enforced by his handler.

Dr. Chris Draper, of wildlife charity Born Free, told the Independent: "To see the animal in this circumstance when you’ve seen one in the wild is utterly incongruent.

"Not only is it being exposed to substantial noise, but the use of the whip is wrong.

"They would say it doesn’t hurt, but if that’s the case why use it at all?"


Dr. Draper explained that, with their 'naturally nervous and impulsive nature', keeping a rhino in these conditions poses a threat to humans as well.

He said that, in the absence of a 'substantial barrier', Mafa could hurt his 'trainer' or spectators.


Mafa is shown moving away from his 'trainer' in this YouTube video of the circus act

'Lazy exploitation'

Most Facebook users responded negatively to the ordeal.

One wrote: "Lazy exploitation. When will these animal abusers have to start making their own money on their own labor, not the animals suffering?"

Another asked: "What is your kid supposed to learn from seeing an animal being taken outside of its natural habitat for the fun of people?

"How is that making him or her a future better person?"

'Bleeding hearts'

There were also a few who commented in support of the circus.

One wrote: "Would the bleeding hearts prefer that it be released into the wild, where it'll survive for about a day before being killed by poachers?"

Another wrote: "I ride my horse same way and same kind training.

"It's a rare wild rhino obviously trust its trainer to do all this at liberty. After seeing other animals ridden like this buffolos and camels, he looks cared for [sic]."

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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PBN Contributor:

Emily Court is a passionate ethical vegan from Eastern Canada. She is a Challenge 22 Mentor, Digital Writer, and experienced animal advocate driven by issues of animal liberation and social justice. She studied at Dalhousie University, where her thesis highlighted intercultural and gender relations. She is an established public speaker, writer, and world traveller with a drive to provide a voice to those who might not otherwise have one. You can follow her on Instagram @emily.j.court or on Twitter @_EmilyJCourt_.

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