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Barnum’s Animals Crackers Escape Their Cages

For 116 years, the animals shown on Nabisco’s Barnum’s Animals crackers boxes have been in cages. Now, after a request from a group that works to protect animals, they are free.

In 1902, Nabisco first created their animal crackers. They weren’t the first crackers in the shape of animals ever made, but they became the most famous.

Labeled animals from an animal crackers box.
Here are some of the animals found in the animal crackers box.
In the past, many of the animals could be seen in circuses.
(Source: Baseball Bugs, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Nabisco named their crackers “Barnum’s Animals” after P. T. Barnum. P. T. Barnum was a famous showman who created Barnum and Bailey’s circus.

Poster for Barnum and Bailey's circus.
Poster for Barnum and Bailey’s circus, showing animals – many in cages.
Animal crackers were meant to remind people of the circus.
(Source: …trialsanderrors, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Animals were an important part of circuses. In order to move the animals easily, the animals were kept in circus wagons, which were like cages on wheels.

The box of Barnum’s Animals crackers was created to make it look like the animals were in rolling cages, just like circus wagons.

Classic Barnum's Animals crackers package with animals shown in cages.
For 116 years, the animals on Barnum’s Animals crackers were shown in cages.
(Source: Rory Barr, via

Circuses have been popular all through history. But the way that circuses treat animals has upset many people.

PeTA is a group that works to protect animals. PeTA stands for “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”. PeTA has been fighting to protect animals in circuses for over thirty years.

PeTA Logo
Mondelez International changed their package after a request from PeTA.
PeTA is a group that works to protect animals.
(Source: PETA; extracted by Stepshep, via Wikimedia Commons.)

In 2015, one of the largest and oldest circuses finally stopped using elephants in its shows. PeTA and other groups had helped force the circus to change. Later, the circus closed down for good.

In 2016, PeTA wrote to Mondelez International, which is now the company in charge of Barnum’s Animals. PeTA asked Mondelez to change the package to show free animals instead of caged ones. After Mondelez wrote back to PeTA, the group even sent Mondelez a drawing showing what the package might look like.

Soon, Mondelez decided to change the picture on Barnum’s Animals boxes. The new boxes began to arrive in stores last week.

Barnum's Animals crackers box showing freed animals.
Two years ago, PETA suggested a new look for Barnum’s Animals crackers.
Now the animals on the package are free.
(Source: Package: Mondelez International, Image: NFK Staff)

Ben Williamson, who works for PeTA, says that the new box shows that people today no longer accept “the chaining and caging of wild animals.”

This is not the first time that the package has changed for Barnum’s Animals. The company already uses different packages in different countries, and not all of them show animals behind bars.

Specially styled box of Barnum's Animals Crackers.
Barnum’s Animals have had different packages for short periods of time.
This package raised money to help save tigers.
(Source: Rusty Blazenhoff, via

At times, the box has been changed for a short time, usually to raise money. In 2010, the box had a special picture by Lily Pulitzer. This package helped raise $100,000 for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to help save tigers.



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