Posted: 20 October 2011. Updated: 10 November 2011
New report shows animal circuses duped inspectors
Animal Defenders International (ADI) today released a new report showing how animal circuses have duped welfare inspectors from the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), from local authorities, and from the RSPCA.
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ADI has submitted evidence to Defra that the Coalition Government’s proposals for a licensing system instead of a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses is expensive, unworkable and delusional.
In June, MPs voted overwhelmingly for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses as backbench MPs dismissed claims about legal obstacles. Yet, Defra’s response has been to reconsider regulating this repeatedly shamed industry.
Today’s report from ADI shows not only that a regulatory and inspection system is doomed to failure but also presents legal arguments showing that the Government is in a position to prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses, whilst introducing a regulatory system for domesticated species.
The parliamentary briefing was presented to Defra at a meeting yesterday and will be circulated to all MPs today.
Jan Creamer, ADI’s Chief Executive said: “The fundamental problem is that a travelling circus cannot provide wild animals with the facilities they need. These animals live almost the entire year in temporary accommodation, in cages that must be small enough to be packed up each week and moved to a new site. They are handled and controlled in ways that no other captive wildlife is forced to endure and they spend excessive hours shut in their transporters. These are all welfare problems that are simply inherent to the industry so cannot be addressed by standards.
“Inspections are not going to catch the problems. Our video evidence shows circuses making a complete mockery of attempts at inspection by Defra, local authorities and the RSPCA.”
Fiona O’Donnell MP, the newly appointed Shadow Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries with wild animals in circuses as part of her brief said: “The Government are out of touch with the public on the use of wild animals in circuses. This document clearly illustrates that with the best will in the world, licensing cannot work and the inspecting authorities can be misled. Defra need to satisfy the will of the House and now enact a ban before July 2012 to prevent this cruelty.”
Zac Goldsmith, Tory MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston said: “A motion calling for a ban passed unopposed through Parliament, and is backed by a big majority of people. I sincerely hope the Government will take steps now to implement that ban for the sake of the animals involved.”
Matthew Offord, Tory MP for Hendon said: “ADI’s briefing clearly shows the shortcomings of an inspection system. It is clear to me that the only way to effectively protect the welfare of these animals is to implement an outright ban.”
And Adrian Sanders, the Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay said: “The will of parliament as expressed on the 23 June 2011 is not being actioned by the Government through its proposed licensing system. It falls well short of the welfare standards parliament demanded.”
ADI is responsible for the series of exposés in the UK and around the world over the past 15 years that have shown the public how circus animals are abused. ADI undercover investigations have revealed hundreds of instances of violence to animals in circuses. The organisation has reviewed the potential options for regulation, licensing and inspection and fails to see how any rules or inspections would have identified the examples seen in their undercover work.
Jan said: “Even at Mary Chipperfield Promotions where violence was endemic and we put before the court several hundred incidents securing three convictions, there is not an inspection system in the world that would have identified that abuse. Indeed one of those convicted was a government zoo inspector.”
ADI asserts that the Government can regulate the use of animals in circuses by restricting licences for the use of domestic animals and withholding licences for the use of wild or exotic animals.
The new report cites a number of Government policy decisions based on public concerns that have previously led to bans, these include:
Jan Creamer said: “Everyone knows that there are many things in life which we are not allowed to do and we don’t have a new act of parliament each time. The Government needs to get some perspective on this issue – the introduction of a policy to end the use of wild or exotic animals will end a huge amount of suffering. It will not even impact the majority of circuses since they do not have animals, nor will impact those with domestic species only.
“A ban on wild animals in circuses is a small proportionate reform that the public, MPs and animal protection groups have been promised repeatedly and have waited over a decade to see introduced.”
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