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Animal Defenders International

New campaign to end wild animals in circuses in Northern Ireland

Posted: 21 January 2013. Updated: 21 January 2013

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ADI and our Irish partner ARAN have launched a new campaign to end the use of wild animals in circuses in Northern Ireland.

With other animal protection groups, we spoke with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle O’Neill, on 21 January 2013, and provided evidence of the suffering of animals in travelling circuses, and the similar wild animal measures being taken by governments, cities and towns all over the world.

There is huge public support for a UK-wide ban on wild animals in circuses and the Government announced in March 2012 that it would introduce legislation as soon as parliamentary time allowed. ADI and ARAN is seeking a similar commitment from the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Even with the best will in the world, the evidence shows that travelling circuses cannot provide their animals with adequate facilities to maintain health and welfare. ADI investigations have revealed how circus animals endure confinement, physical and social deprivation, long and arduous journeys, brutal control methods and physical violence. We hope that Minister O’Neill will listen to the public, and the overwhelming scientific and empirical evidence, and prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses.

Just a few wild animal circuses currently tour Northern Ireland, highlighting the decrease in popularity for such acts. Courtney Brothers Circus made headlines across the world last year after one of its five elephants escaped in Cork, running through a public car park and onto a road. Two days later, at the same circus, a trainer was crushed and hospitalised while attempting to break up a fight between two elephants.

Incidents such as these highlight the risk to public safety, of allowing large and dangerous animals to be on the streets and in towns. Following the escape, animal protection organisations, sanctuaries and zoos from around the world called for the use of elephants in circuses to be prohibited.

Popularity for wild animal acts in circuses in Ireland has waned over the years as people have become more informed about the welfare of the animals involved. They can see that performing is no fun for the animals and don’t want to be associated with the inherent suffering involved. The use of wild animals in circuses should be consigned to the past, where it belongs.

Take action!

  • Ask your political representative to support a ban on wild animals in circuses – find out who your MLA is here
  • Speak out when an animal circus comes to town – let ADI know, write to your local paper and hold a demo/leaflet circus goers
  • Support the campaign with a donation

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