Animal show

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An animal show is a form of exhibition featuring the display or performance of one or more breeds of animal.[1]


An animal show can be for entertainment, educational, and/or commercial purpose. A judged event may rank specimens for the benefit of those involved in animal breeding or husbandry, or provide entertainment to animal fancy hobbyists.

Types of shows[edit]

The US Animal Welfare Act identifies a number of types of animal exhibitions:

Amusement parks[edit]

Modern amusement parks often feature performing marine mammals and even contain drive-thru animal safari tours. The animal shows are typically operated by a contracted performer, while the animal parks are owned by the theme park itself.[1]

Animal fighting ventures[edit]

The US Animal Welfare Act prohibits the staging of dog fighting or baiting (including bear or raccoon-baiting). Cockfighting is outlawed in every state in the United States but is not banned nationally in the US.[1]

Animal performances[edit]

Animals perform tricks and stunts in the circus, marine mammal shows, amusement parks, carnivals, independent animal acts, television shows, movies, and educational exhibits. These can be licensed acts with booking agents.[1]


Animals can be displayed or be given as prizes by concessionaires at carnivals.[1]

Farm animal exhibitions[edit]

Farm animals are exhibited at agricultural shows, fairs, and other exhibitions.[1] In the US, 4-H is actively involved in youth participation in the exhibition of livestock at county and state fairs and dedicated livestock shows.

Horse shows[edit]

Horse shows are competitions in which riders cause their horses to perform particular gaits and activities for recognition and prizes.[1]

Marine mammal shows[edit]

Marine mammal shows include the display or performance of marine mammals such as polar bears, sea otters, whales, porpoises, dolphins, manatees, dugongs, seals, sea lions, walruses, and other mammals with fins or flippers.[1]

Pet shows[edit]

Dog shows, cat shows, and rabbit shows are exhibitions for breeders and breed enthusiasts.[1]

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has been held annually since 1877. Over 300,000 dogs were rated by 134 judges in 134 shows through 2011.[2]

Promotional exhibits[edit]

Animals are sometimes used to attract business to a commercial enterprise, such as a bear at a gasoline service station, a monkey at a trade show, or an elephant at a shopping center. These animals are typically displayed but might also perform in a show.[1]


Farm animals and horses perform competitively at rodeos.[1]

Zoological parks[edit]

Modern zoos often include animal shows for educational purposes. Petting zoos and roadside zoos are commercial enterprises that typically only display animals.[1]


Animal shows require well-trained personnel for animal handling, training, and upkeep. Competition and entertainment performance also require skilled nurturing, development, and training of the animals.


A competitive animal show may feature the best specimens of purebred animals in a locality or country. Prestigious shows or those with large purses (prize money) to be won may attract exhibitors from around the world.

In some cases, particularly for horses and dogs, animals may be evaluated in various forms of competition to a performance standard, regardless of breed status. Extensive animal training is usually required prior to competition.

Typically, shows are an opportunity for breeders to feature their best breeding stock, so animals in a show are often entire, that is, the animal has not been spayed or neutered. There are exceptions. Castrated animals are seen in competitions such as those for horses that evaluate athletic performance, or in shows for livestock such as beef cattle that evaluate the "fitting" and quality of an animal intended for meat.

When evaluated on conformation and suitability as breeding stock, animals are first judged within narrow groups categorized by age and sex. The term "Champion" is given in some competitions to the best animal of each sex, sometimes with a "Junior Champion" award given in classes for juvenile animals. (In other cases, the title "Champion" is only bestowed upon animals winning multiple competitions or at specific high-level competitions). Animals of both sexes may compete for the title of Best of Breed, a distinction which can add significant value to a breeder's lines. The top prize in a show, when the Best of Breed winners are judged against one another, is usually titled Best in Show, Best (or Supreme) Exhibit in Show, or Supreme Champion. In performance shows, the highest-placing animals in a given category of competition are often given the title "Champion." The term "Champion" is also used for the highest-placing animals in livestock competition when different breeds do not compete against one another.

Some shows are designated as "All-breed" events, open to multiple breeds of the given animal. Others shows may be breed shows, limited to one or only a few specific breeds of a given animal.

Types of animals[edit]

Animals typically "shown" include:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l USDA Animal Welfare Act, Licensing and Registration, APHIS USDA (retrieved 26 May 2012)"Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-06-16. Retrieved 2012-06-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ 2013 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Information (retrieved 26 May 2012) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-29. Retrieved 2012-05-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)