Though thousands of animals continue to suffer in circuses around the world, some milestone strides were made on their behalf this year. In 2014, both Malta and Mexico joined a growing list of countries to ban performing animals in circuses. That list also includes Bolivia, Greece, Peru, Cyprus, Paraguay, Colombia, Slovenia and the Netherlands.
In April, Los Angeles banned the use of bullhooks, sharp sticks used to control performing elephants, and in December the city of Oakland followed suit. The bans essentially bar any circus with elephants from entering the cities.
And 2015 was a particularly good year for circus animals in Peru, many of whom were rescued by the group Animal Defenders International, then packed into a plane and flown to their new homes at sanctuaries in North America.