Circus tigers 'perk up' before performing.

Circus tigers increase their pacing ahead of performances, say researchers, who believe such behaviour indicates the big cats positively anticipate their time on stage.

But an animal rights group disagrees, saying instead that the pacing is a sign of anxiety and dread.

Professor Ted Friend of the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University and colleagues report their study in the December issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

The authors received cooperation and assistance from Feld Entertainment, Inc., the owners of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Previously, the researchers analysed other repetitive behaviour, such as weaving, in which a circus elephant moves its body or head from side to side.

They came to a similar conclusion, suggesting the animals perked up before performing.

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