Tom Duffys Circus

Circus owned by David Duffy

Information gathered from 2012 investigation (click here to read full report) :

Animals: 2 lions, 3 tigers*, 1 zebra, 3 llamas, 4 alpacas, 7 dogs, 1 snake, 15 horses and ponies


duffys tiger 12

Lion and Tiger Act: Lions and tigers performed tricks including jumps, standing on hind legs and rollovers.


duffys tiger act 12

Llama, Alpaca and Zebra Act: Two llamas, an alpaca and a zebra were used in a routine including jumps and standing on ringside fence.


duffys zebra act 12

Horses and ponies: The horses and ponies were used in standard acts including ‘Big and Little’, jumps and hind leg walking. A bareback riding act had three performers jumping on and off the horse.


Dog Act: Seven dogs performed acts such as hind leg walking and going down a slide.


duffys dogs 2012

Snake petting: During the interval children could have their photo taken holding a snake.


* Two tigers seen in the outside enclosure after the show appeared younger in age than the three tigers in the show. No other tigers could be seen. As it is unclear whether there were actually five tigers this report refers instead to three tigers being held/used at the circus.


Circus History:

Established in 1875

Animals used throughout the years:

Animals in 2010: Tigers, lion, alligators, dogs, snakes, horses, ponies, donkeys, llamas, alpacas
Animals in 2009: Tigers, lion, alligators, dogs, snakes, horses, ponies, donkeys, llamas
Animals in 2008: Tigers, lion, alligators, dogs, snakes, horses, ponies, donkeys, llamas
Animals in 2007: Tigers, alligators, dogs, snakes, horses, ponies, donkeys, llamas
Animals in 2006: Tigers, alligators, dogs, snakes, horses, ponies, donkeys, llamas
Animals in 2005 included: performances included 3 elephants, imported from Germany



The following are some of the issues relating to this circus:

April 2005:
Duffy’s Circus were criticised after using an elephant and alligators to promote the opening of a Dublin nightclub.
(Breaking News, 14 April 2005)

September 1995:
A man had both his arms ripped off by tigers at Duffy’s Circus near Galway. The incident happened at 4am and the circus claimed the man had broken into the animals’ trailer, reaching through a feeding gap under the bars to stroke them.
(Daily Express, 6 September 1995)


Information gathered from 2006 investigation (click here to read full report) :

Samantha Lindley is the vet who carried out some of the inspections of circuses with Freedom for Animals investigators.


Duffy’s Circus has four Bengal and Siberian tigers, presented by Tommy Chipperfield.

Although we were unable to attend a performance, only seeing the animals in their housing area, information from other sources shows that the tiger’s acts include jumping between pedestals, all four sitting up and lying down and a hind-leg stand.

Outside of the ring, the tigers are housed in a ‘beastwagon’ – a traditional circus lorry with cages built into it. The tigers have access to an ‘exercise cage’ which is simply a small cage (approx 12 metres by 6 metres) attached to the lorry. While this meets minimum recommended sizes, the ‘exercise’ area provides no real opportunity for exercise and has no obvious enrichment. Simple enrichment such as the ability to climb and areas for scratching and marking should be provided for captive tigers. The lack of such provisions could lead to abnormal (displacement) behaviours due to the inability to carry out normal behaviours.


Duffy’s Circus has four alligators, used in an act that includes a display of large snakes. The alligators are taken into the ring in wooden boxes and allowed to walk around the ring.

When not used in the circus ring the alligators are housed in small enclosure built into a lorry. This clearly restricts their movements and natural behaviours such as hunting prey and building burrows.


Dogs at Duffy’s Circus were housed in small pens, approximately 3 metres by 2 metres that did not allow exercise within the pens. Some of the dogs were chained within the pen, restricting movements even further. It is not known if the dogs are given regular exercise apart from their time in the ring.

Health and Safety

Two photographs on the website of Duffy’s Circus in 2005 showed three elephants walking down what appeared to be a city or town centre street. No details of the publicity event are given but the circus was known to have three elephants in its show at the time. Although the pictures show that standard ‘crowd control’ barriers separated the public from the elephants, people can be seen leaning over to touch one of the animals.

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