Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

UK Government to ban wild animals in circuses at last!

Posted: 1 May 2019. Updated: 4 July 2019


After a decade of promises by the UK Government and more than 20 years of investigations and campaigning by Animal Defenders International, the UK Government announced, on 1 May, a bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England.

The announcement from Environment Secretary Michael Gove came more than a year after the UK Government indicated it would bring in legislation before regulations, introduced as a temporary measure ahead of a ban, expire in January 2020. With similar legislation already passed in Scotland, and expected to be brought to parliament before the summer in Wales, the UK-wide ban that the public want and the animals need is finally within reach.

Latest news: The bill passed Committee stage in the House of Lords on 3 July 2019. Our thanks to peers for rejecting proposed amendments which would have diluted the bill and permitted the use of captive-bred wild animals. The next and final stage will be the Third Reading in the House of Lords.

Take action today

  • Make a donation to help ADI stop circus suffering in the UK
  • Speak out when an animal circus comes to town. Email us to request for materials and support

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

Awareness of animal suffering and changing attitudes have seen the number of wild animal circuses in Britain plummet. Only two circuses perform in England and Wales with wild animals, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus. Opinion polls consistently show the public remains overwhelmingly opposed to wild animal acts, with a high proportion against all animal acts.

Promises made, but the suffering has continued

A wild animal circus ban ban was first promised under a Labour Government during the passage of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Following the shocking abuse of three elephants at the Great British Circus in 2009, exposed by ADI, a public consultation on the issue was launched by Defra. The results, published in 2010, showed 94.5% supported a ban, and led to a commitment from the Labour Government, before the General Election resulted in a Coalition Government.

In 2011, ADI exposed the terrible abuse of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus, leading to backbench MPs demanding a ban. ADI’s shocking footage also led to a cruelty conviction for circus owner Bobby Roberts.

With a commitment from the Coalition Government in 2012 to ban wild animals in circuses in England, legislation was drafted the following year but the Government bill simply gathered dust.

In 2016, ADI revealed the miserable lives of Thomas Chipperfield’s lions and tigers, caged on the back of a truck and shut behind metal shutters at night and with restricted access to an outdoor exercise during the day.

ADI also, the same year, revealed suffering the at the winter quarters of Peter Jolly’s Circus. Appalling overcrowding, fighting between animals, a worker tormenting a camel, animals kept inside for days on end, and failure to comply with government regulations were documented.

Forty five countries have stepped up to stop circus suffering to date, with more than half of the bans introduced since the 2012 bill was published. Repeated efforts by backbench MPs to bring in a ban through Private Member’s Bills, supported by ADI, have been thwarted by just a few MPs.

With a ban now in sight, help us get it over the finish line!

© Animal Defenders International 2019