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Animal Defenders International

Help circus animals left behind by broken promises

Posted: 17 February 2017. Updated: 27 February 2017

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UPDATE: A Private Members Bill to stop the suffering of wild animals in England’s circuses was once again blocked by MP Christopher Chope on 24 February 2017. It takes just one objection to block a Private Members Bill, which is why it is vital the British Government moves to bring in their own bill. The bill will be discussed again on 24 March 2017 in Parliament - please see how you can help below.

A ban on wild animal circuses was first promised over a decade ago. 94.5% of the public want to see the ban implemented, and 98% of MPs stood on a manifesto promise to do so – yet these outdated and unwanted acts are still legal in the UK.

A Private Members Bill from Conservative MP Kevin Foster aims to jolt the Government into action and provide long-suffering circus animals with the reprieve they desperately need. It will have its second reading on Friday 24 February – please see below to find out how you can support.

Given the constant travel and their temporary nature, circuses cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them mentally or physically healthy. Welfare is always compromised.

ADI has repeatedly exposed the suffering animals in British circuses endure. In the last year alone we have revealed the miserable lives of the lions and tigers owned by Thomas Chipperfield and both wild and domestic animals at Peter Jolly’s Circus.

Current regulations do not protect animals. Licensing and inspection cannot improve the environment enough to ensure animal welfare, due to the nature of the travelling circus. Additionally, investigations show trained inspectors are unlikely to detect husbandry problems or physical abuse.

  • At the Great British Circus, a reported total of six inspections by local officials and RSPCA staff of the elephant tent found no evidence of physical abuse, nor the chaining regime. ADI video revealed the elephants were chained for up to 11 hours a day and were viciously abused. All evidence of the chains was removed from the tent during visiting hours each day, with the circus even claiming to MPs there are “no chains in our elephant tent”.

  • An ADI investigator recorded how a seriously injured lioness was concealed behind sacks of straw during an RSPCA inspection.

  • At Bobby Roberts Super Circus winter quarters, Anne the elephant was chained continuously for many weeks and viciously abused; none of this was revealed during inspections of the facility. Following ADI’s release of video of a two-week observation revealing the abuse of Anne, her owner was convicted of cruelty.

With 34 countries around the world having already restricted animal circus acts, Britain is sorely behind. When the bans passed in Bolivia and Peru, ADI helped enforce the law, rescuing and rehoming every animal.

The opportunity to bring in the ban was first missed during the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Then after ADI revealed the terrible abuse of Anne the elephant in 2011, backbench MPs unanimously demanded a ban. A commitment was made by government in 2012, with legislation drafted the following year. But the bill simply gathered dust. The Conservatives made an election promise to ban wild animals in circuses and now – it’s time for Theresa May to uphold that promise.

Click here to see the full political timeline of wild animals in circuses.

The animals have been waiting for too long - take action now!

  • Call your MP today and ask them to support the “Wild Animals in Circuses (Prohibition) Bill” which will have its Second Reading on Friday 24 February – get contact details for your MP here.

  • Ask your MP to encourage Defra Minister George Eustice MP to introduce the government bill.

  • Avoid circuses that have animal acts, and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same.

  • Speak out when a circus comes to town – email ADI for leaflets and posters. We can also let local supporters know.

  • Spread public awareness by following ADI on Facebook and Twitter and sharing our action calls.

  • Donate towards ADI’s global campaign to Stop Circus Suffering.

© Animal Defenders International 2017