Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Overwhelming majority says change Animal Welfare Bill to ban circus animals

Posted: 25 May 2005

9th November 2004: Animal Defenders International reveals shocking new footage of abuse

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is urging the Government to impose a ban on the use of performing animals in circuses, and it seems that the majority of the British population agrees.

In a recent survey commissioned by ADI*, 63% of respondents agreed that the use of performing animals in circuses should be banned and, according to ADI, they have good reason to think this. At 4:30pm today, Tony Blair will be presented a copy of ADI’s most disturbing video yet, detailing the abuse that performing animals receive in the hands of their trainers.

Filmed secretly by ADI undercover field officers working in fourteen countries including the UK and Ireland, the video aims to shock MPs into action by showing how animals in circuses are kicked, whipped, beaten and punched in an effort to control and train them. The footage shows how sick, injured and dying animals continue to be kept on the road and includes sickening images of a dead tiger being beheaded and skinned. It also highlights serious lapses in security with pictures of children being allowed to reach into lions’ cages and one youngster being bitten by a baboon, showing how little understanding people have of the natural instinct and power of these animals.

But most shockingly of all, almost everything shown in ADI’s video will remain legal under the Government’s Animal Welfare Bill, despite the strength of public feeling against the continued use of performing animals. When questioned about the treatment of animals in circuses, 80% of our survey respondents agreed that animal trainers should be banned from hitting performing animals and yet the Government’s proposals go completely against public opinion.

Under the new Animal Welfare Bill, it will remain legal to:

  • whip, kick and beat animals until they comply with commands
  • use violence during training
  • keep animals in substandard temporary accommodation throughout the year

Jan Creamer, ADI Chief Executive, says: “We fail to understand how the Government can call this new bill an ‘animal welfare’ bill when it leaves animals in circuses vulnerable to beatings and severe confinement, licensed in the name of entertainment.

"Nobody in their right mind could watch our video and say that circuses with animals are an acceptable form of entertainment. If the Government is at all concerned with the welfare of animals they must ban the use of performing animals in circuses under this Bill."

Almost 200 animals including lions, reindeer, horses, a bear and an elephant, currently tour and perform with circuses in the UK.


*Survey carried out by NOP asked 1,000 adults aged 15+ whether they agreed with the following statements:

  • circus animal trainers should be banned from hitting performing animals
  • the use of performing animals in circuses should be banned

Data has been weighed to bring it in line with national profiles.

ADI can provide media with:

Interviews (studio, ISDN or telephone) with its chief executive Jan Creamer and campaigns director Tim Phillips, both seasoned campaigners and well-known spokespeople for the animal protection movement.
Broadcast quality footage (BETA format rushes available) and high quality photographs to support stories - including undercover footage.

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