Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Arts Council continues to support circus suffering in Ireland

Posted: 15 January 2014


The Arts Council of Ireland continues to fund animal circuses and has given grants of tens of thousands of Euros each year to Duffy’s Circus, Circus Gerbola and Fossetts Circus. The Council itself receives funding principally from the Irish Exchequer and National Lottery.

Duffy’s Circus has received funding since 2006, peaking at 75,000 Euros in 2008, dropping to 36,000 Euros in 2013 and, as recently announced, 20,000 Euros for 2014 .

ADI and ARAN have been working to stop circus suffering in Ireland since the launch of our campaign in 2005, when we published the findings of our investigation into seven circuses which revealed animals suffering severe confinement, inadequate diets and physical abuse. Since then we have continued to engage with government officials, politicians and local authorities – securing many local bans – and to raise awareness about the suffering of circus animals. Public and political support for an end to the use of animals in circuses, particularly wild animals, is growing in Ireland in line with other countries around the world as people become aware of the inherent cruelty involved in this industry.

We have contacted the Arts Council many times to urge them to cease their funding of animal circuses and have protested outside their offices in Dublin.

In addition to providing evidence of the inherent suffering that animals in circuses inevitably endure, we have also highlighted to the Arts Council specific incidents of cruelty such as that of the solitary elephant at Fossetts who was chained by a front and a hind leg barely able to move and the housing of big cats in inadequate enclosures at Duffy’s. Unfortunately the Arts Council has continued to fund circus cruelty.

In its latest communication to ADI and ARAN, the Arts Council state it “…in no way condones or supports the mistreatment of animals”. Unfortunately, by providing funding to circuses with animals, this is exactly what the Arts Council is doing.

The Arts Council justifies the funding of animal circuses by referring to a motion that was passed in the European Parliament which states “it would be desirable for it to be recognised that the classical circus, including the presentation of animals, forms part of European Culture”.

The European Parliament defines classical circus as one which “offers a variety of entertaining acts in the ring, often with animals”. This indicates that the motion applies to the classical circus with or without animal acts and so the Arts Council need not finance animal circuses in order to support classical circus acts.

Also, in the Arts Council’s “welfare framework” it states that the Five Freedoms “are employed to ensure that animals in human care do not endure any unnecessary pain or suffering”. However, it is not possible to provide all Five Freedoms satisfactorily for animals in circuses, especially the freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour and freedom from fear and distress, as our evidence has shown in many circuses.

ADI and ARAN are awaiting a further response from the Arts Council and hope that it is reconsidering its support for an industry which causes the suffering of animals.

Take action

  • Please send a polite email to Arts Council Director Orlaith McBride at calling for grants to animal circuses to be stopped immediately.
  • Find out more about our campaign to stop circus suffering in Ireland and Northern Ireland here

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