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Animal Defenders International

ADI leads new parliamentary initiative to introduce circus ban

Posted: 11 January 2012. Updated: 27 January 2012

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With the UK government continuing to drag its feet over the introduction of a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses - despite that all the potential legal obstacles cited by Defra have now been swept away – ADI, together with a group of amazing MPs, is leading the political charge to insist that the government brings in a ban at the earliest opportunity.

MPs Jim Cunningham, Caroline Lucas, Peter Bottomly, Jeremy Corbyn, Mark Durkan, Gordon Henderson, Kelvin Hopkins, Bob Russell and Adrian Sanders have all supported the two new EDMs and many others are tabling questions in the House – Tessa Munt, Mark Pritchard, Nic Dakin, Kerry McCarthy, Fiona O’ Donnell, John Leech, Angela Smith, Graeme Morrice, Viendra Sharma, Cathy Jamieson, Gordon Henderson, Gavin Shuker, Justin Tomlinson, Sheila Gilmore, Jim Cunningham, Caroline Lucas, Adrian Sanders, Baroness Smith and Jim Fitzpatrick.

All have looked at the evidence and are standing firmly behind our ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign and doing all they can to bring about a ban on wild animals in circuses.

EDM 2563 Ban on Wild Animals in Circuses
Sponsored by Jim Cunningham MP (Labour, Coventry South), and supported by MPs Jeremy Corbyn (Labour, Islington North), Gordon Henderson (Conservative, Sittingbourne & Sheepey), Kelvin Hopkins (Labour, Luton North), Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion), and Bob Russell (Lib Dem, Colchester), this motion calls on the government to use its powers to introduce a ban on wild animals in circuses, to take effect by 1 July, and respect the will of the House, which unanimously approved a motion directing the government to ban the use of wild animals in circuses following a backbench debate in June 2010.

EDM 2586 Inspection Reports on Circus Establishments
Sponsored by Caroline Lucas MP (Green, Brighton Pavilion), and supported by MPs Adrian Sanders (LibDem, Torbay), Peter Bottomley (Conservative, Worthing West) and Mark Durkan (SDLP, Foyle), this motion calls on the government to release Defra inspection reports on animal circuses. Defra has refused a series of freedom of information requests by ADI for access to government inspection reports on circuses conducted in 2008 and 2009 by Defra appointed vets. The reports are vital to inform any decisions made about licensing proposals and the refusal to allow access prevents concerned stakeholders and independent experts from reviewing the scope, criteria used and overall quality of the inspections.

ADI has released previously unpublished and unseen evidence that shows the failure of inspections – including sick animals being hidden from inspections, and teams of inspectors failing to notice animal care problems. Our ‘Out of Control’ report provides clear evidence that an inspection system is doomed to failure.

Government quizzed by supportive MPs

A raft of parliamentary questions have been tabled by supportive MPs over the past couple of months who have been quizzing the government on the following issues: what legal advice it has received concerning a possible ban and what are the obstacles preventing a ban; assessment of and progress made in light of the Austrian Court decision; what circus inspections have been carried out; proposals for, evaluation and costs of licensing system.

Thank you Jim Cunningham (Labour, Coventry South), Nic Dakin (Labour, Scunthorpe), Jim Fitzpatrick (Labour, Poplar & Limehouse), Sheila Gilmore (Labour, Edinburgh East), Gordon Henderson (Conservative, Sittingbourne & Sheppey), Cathy Jamieson (Labour, Kilmarnock & Loudoun), John Leech (Lib Dem, Manchester Withington), Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavillion), Kerry McCarthy (Labour, Bristol East), Graeme Morrice (Labour, Livingstone), Tessa Munt (Lib Dem, Wells), Fiona O’ Donnell (Labour, East Lothian), Mark Pritchard (Conservative, The Wrekin), Bob Russell (Lib Dem, Colchester), Adrian Sanders (Lib Dem, Torbay), Virendra Sharma (Labour, Ealing Southall), Gavin Shuker (Labour, Luton South), Angela Smith (Labour, Penistone & Stocksbridge), Baroness Smith, Justin Tomlinson (Conservative, Swindon North) for your support!

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Austrian Court decision clears way for ban
In December the Austrian Constitutional Court in Vienna announced that it had thrown out an application by Circus Krone to overturn Austria’s ban on wild animals in circuses. The government had claimed that there were legal impediments to a ban, and cited the upcoming Krone case – even before the application had been lodged. In light of Austria’s decision, there are now no legal obstacles to prevent a ban being introduced.

72% of the public support a ban
In 2011, ADI released the results of its independent online poll carried out by YouGov, which asked impartial participants aged over 18 to what extent they would support or oppose a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. A massive 72% of the public backed a ban with only 8% against – almost 3 out 4 members of the public therefore wanted a ban.

Defra Public Consultation votes for a ban
In 2010, Defra announced the results of their 2009 public consultation on animals in circuses, which resulted in a huge 94.5% public support for a ban.

Animal Circus Bans Worldwide
National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have already been adopted in Bolivia, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Peru, Portugal, Sweden, Singapore, Costa Rica, India and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Greece and the United States.

Inspections would not have saved Anne at Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus
An ADI investigation at the winter quarters of Bobby Roberts Super Circus in 2011 revealed a staggeringly high level of violence and serious animal husbandry flaws. Over a two-week period, incidents included Anne, an elderly, severely arthritic 57 year old elephant, being hit with a metal pitchfork and kicked around the face and body 48 times by workers, who are also seen beating and spitting on a camel and beating miniature ponies and horses on numerous occasions.

At the request of ADI, and given enormous public concern over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions has agreed that the Crown Prosecution Service take over proceedings with the case to be heard in June 2012. See here

Inspections would not have uncovered abuse of elephants at Great British Circus
In 2009 ADI released undercover footage of the use of elephants at the Great British Circus and this exposé put wild animals in circuses back on the political agenda. This evidence was presented to the Government and a public consultation on animal circuses followed, in December 2009. The footage can be viewed here.


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