Those Amazing Animals

6, 7, 8

Participants explore how animals are used in sports and entertainment. They will explore the concepts of animal welfare and animal cruelty, and how they relate to the manner in which animals are trained and treated. The learners will explore, formulate, and articulate personal opinions concerning the use of animals and their welfare.

PrintOne 45 Minute Session
  • identify ways animals are being used in sports and entertainment.
  • define and explore the concepts of animal welfare and animal cruelty.
  • 2 or 4 copies of handout Animals in Sports and Entertainment, cut into individual pictures
Home Connection 

Learners share the information they learned about animals in entertainment with family and friends to get their opinions about the use of animals for entertainment, and their views about animal welfare and cruelty.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Randomly pass out the image pairs from the handout. Tell the learners to locate their “partner” and together identify what the picture depicts. Have each group share what activity their picture depicts with the whole group. What do all of these have in common?

  2. Brainstorm a list of activities, beginning with the picture prompts, in which animals are used for sports and entertainment.

  3. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), "Animals in Entertainment" refers to any animal(s) used to act, perform, fight and/or kill for the enjoyment of humans. The term encompasses many different forms of entertainment – from circuses to movies to bullfighting.

  4. Share information about animals in entertainment. 

    • Animals have been used for entertainment purposes since ancient times. Archeological findings in Macedonia that date back to 2,000 B.C.E. (Library Index) reveal that lions were kept in cages for the benefit of humans. Circuses date back to 2 BCE.
    • Chariot races often led to the death of horses. Gladiators fought lions in front of thousands of spectators. Dog fighting and cock fighting have been part of many cultures. 
    • Bull fighting is a legal blood sport in Spain, Portugal and Latin America and is enormously popular.
    • Horse and dog racing are beautiful regulated sports, but the animals are sometimes abused by careless owners or harsh conditions. 
    • While the use of animals in entertainment, largely against their will, has been around for a long time, there are more and more anti-cruelty laws protecting animals.
  5. Look up and define the terms animal welfare and animal cruelty:

    • animal welfare - the compassion and respect due animals as living, responsive beings. Animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans, and this is not to be left to the compassionate impulses of humans, but is an entitlement that must be protected under the law.
    • animal cruelty - any time an animal is made to suffer or feel needless pain, whether done intentionally or through neglect
  6. Review the list they generated of animals in entertainment, to consider and discuss how their perception of the activities on the list has been informed by understanding the definition of animal welfare and animal cruelty. Discuss whether their perception of each of these activities might be different since new understanding. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.