History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Were the animals used for gladiatorial combat in Rome 100% wild, or were they trained in any way (either for entertainment purposes like today's circus animals, or for fighting like fighting dogs are trained today).

If it matters, the ones I'm most interested in are big cats.

Inspired by apoorv020's comment on my prior question.

share|improve this question

It would depend on what type of animal it was and what type of entertainment it would be providing. A list of animals that took part in events can be found on this page.

Some animals such as zebras and ostriches were trained so that they could pull chariots. Other animals were taught to do tricks. With the massive variety of animals that participated in the many events some were used just for "hunts" or pitched against a gladiator in a fight to the death.

The more exotic animals that were used in "hunts" or pitched against a gladiator in a fight to the death were probally wild animals with no training.

Also, some gladiatorial events involved releasing herds of animals into the arena just so they could be slaughtered. There would have been no point to train these animals.

share|improve this answer
+1 He was talking only about combat animals, but talking about the chariots too doesn't hurt – o0'. Feb 14 '12 at 13:17
Thanks. He hit on the idea that they could have been trained like circus animals so I thought any additional info couldn't hurt. – sealz Feb 14 '12 at 13:19

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.