Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Oppose export of Ringling big cats!

Posted: 23 June 2017. Updated: 26 June 2017


Following the demise of Ringling Brothers Circus – after a failure to adapt to changing attitudes and falling ticket sales – big cat trainer Alexander Lacey plans to return to Europe and present his outdated act there. He will reportedly bring his circus cats (8 tigers, 6 lions, and a leopard) to Germany sometime mid-July, though the permit application will remain open for public comment until July 21st, to allow public comment/review of previously omitted information. ADI’s initial submission (under the prior Docket ID) is available for reference at this link, and will be updated per the new information and deadline:

Oppose the export of these animals!

Comments on the permit application are being invited by the US Fish & Wildlife Service until extended deadline – Friday 21 July so please take action today.

1. Go to the website:

2. Go to ‘Comment now’ (under Primary Documents)

3. Copy and paste our template below into the response box, personalizing as needed

4. Include your name below and press ‘Continue’

5. If you are happy with your response, check the box to indicate you understand it may be published online and press ‘Submit comment’

6. Enter your email details to receive an email acknowledgment.

Thank you!

Template letter:

Brenda Tapia, Program Analyst/Data Administrator
Division of Management Authority
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: IA
5275 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041– 3803

Docket ID: FWS-HQ-IA-2017-0027
Reference: Feld Entertainment Inc, PRT-22685C

Dear Ms. Tapia,

Concerned for the welfare of the animals involved, I would like to register my opposition to PRT-22685C which seeks approval for the export of 6 lions, 8 tigers, and 1 leopard to Germany, c/o Alexander Lacey.

Investigations undertaken by Animal Defenders International of circuses owned by Martin Lacey Sr, who exported a number of the big cats included in the application from the UK to US and is the father of Alexander Lacey, document 10+ years of family animal abuse, including:

  • Tigers lashed with whips and hit with sticks by Martin Lacey Sr and his daughter Natasha Lacey.

  • Elephants viciously abused, punched, and hit with brooms and sticks by their presenter and groom. Martin Lacey Sr told Members of the Parliament in the UK that the elephants were not chained, yet ADI video evidence showed that they were chained every day, for up to 11 hours.

  • Lions and tigers confined in transporters 27 hours for a journey time of 3 hours 25 minutes.

  • UK Government circus inspection reports revealed big cats lived the whole year in cages on the back of transporters; tigers gave birth while on tour; and an elephant that was “chronically and obviously lame,” with a chronic abscess that “should be seen by a veterinary surgeon … as soon as possible.”

  • Alexander Lacey’s “beastman” lost his temper and lashed out at and hit tigers in a beast wagon. He also hit a lionness in the mouth with a metal bar.

  • Alexander Lacey jabbed a big cat hard with a stick, and concealed a seriously injured lioness from inspectors.

Claims in the permit application that the use of the big cats in circuses provides educational and conservation benefits are not supported by current evidence. Expert analysis of scientific evidence commissioned by the Welsh Government and undertaken by Professor Steven Harris at Bristol University states that “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’” and that “[T]he education and conservation role of travelling circuses… likely to be marginal, and any potential educational and conservation benefits are likely to be outweighed by the negative impression generated by using wild animals for entertainment.”

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, representing veterinary organizations from 38 European countries, recommends “all European and national competent authorities to prohibit the use of wild mammals in travelling circuses across Europe” stating “There is little or no educational, conservational, research or economic benefit derived from the use of wild mammals in travelling circuses that might justify their use. In addition to the welfare considerations, the use of wild mammals in circuses can represent serious animal health and public health and safety risks.”

In consideration of the above, I urge the US Fish and Wildlife Service to reject PRT-22685C and the applicant to instead retire the animals to a GFAS-accredited sanctuary.

© Animal Defenders International 2017