Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Big cats to return to England, despite proposed circus ban

Posted: 22 July 2013. Updated: 22 July 2013


Concerns raised by ADI that new wild animal acts could come into the country ahead of the proposed circus ban have been realised after it was reported in the media that a big cat act trained by Thomas Chipperfield is set to perform in a new circus in England.

As ADI had feared, by delaying action on the circus ban the government has opened the door to new wild animal acts and further animal suffering.

Thomas Chipperfield and his family have presented a big cat act with Irish circus Duffy’s for the past 25 years. Last month, the circus owner announced that Mr Chipperfield had left the circus with his tigers “for personal reasons”. Following his departure, just one circus now features a big cat act in Ireland, Courtney Brothers.

No circuses in England currently perform with big cats so the new Chipperfield act will be the only one of its kind. The last circus to perform with tigers was the Great British Circus, who are not on the road this year, having shipped their big cats off to Courtney Brothers earlier this year.

Reportedly, in addition to four tigers, Mr Chipperfield has also acquired two lions which are being kept at McComb Steel in Dunaghy, Northern Ireland.

Mr Chipperfield is a relative of the notorious Mary Chipperfield, who was prosecuted for animal cruelty, along with her husband Roger Cawley and elephant keeper (and government zoo inspector) Steve Gills in 1998/9 after an investigation by ADI. Our expose shook the industry to its core and just five years later the number of circuses with wild animals had fallen from 20 to just 4.

Earlier this month, ADI expressed its profound disappointment that the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA), in their report on the draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, had suggested that the wild animal ban apply solely to elephants and big cats, in the face of overwhelming public opposition to the use of ALL wild animals in circuses, which has remained consistently high for over 15 years.

According to EFRA, other wild animal species should come under the current licensing scheme, which ADI has shown cannot adequately protect animals in circuses. Inspections did not protect animals from vicious beatings at Mary Chipperfield Promotions (which included elephants and a baby chimpanzee), the Great British Circus (elephants), and the Bobby Roberts Super Circus (Anne the elephant). Only investigations by ADI revealed the terrible abuse these animals were subjected to.

ADI is urging the government to proceed with its proposed ban on all wild animal acts and for its implementation to be brought forward from December 2015.

The organisation is also calling on Scotland and, with our Irish campaign partner ARAN, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to introduce a similar prohibition. ADI has welcomed the pledge of support from the Welsh Assembly for the ban.

Take action!

  • Please urge Lord de Mauley to progress plans to ban the use of ALL wild animals in circuses without delay and to stop the import of new acts ahead of its implementation. Email the Defra Minister here.

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