Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Government’s Circus Report Slammed

Posted: 20 November 2007


Animal Defenders International (ADI), a member of the Defra Circus Working Group and who submitted hundreds of pages of evidence, today slammed the inconclusive findings of the Government’s Circus Working Group (CWG).

The Working Group was convened after Defra minister Ben Bradshaw gave an undertaking in the House of Commons that a ban on the use of non-domesticated species would be brought in after the passage of the Animal Welfare Act. At the time an ADI amendment to the Act banning the use of animals in circuses was withdrawn in the belief that action on this issue was imminent.

After 18 months, the scientists on the CWG have concluded that there is not enough scientific evidence to establish conclusively one way or another whether the welfare of non-domesticated circus animals is compromised. It is believed that the request for evidence was so narrowly defined that it has made it impossible to make any recommendation at all.

The Chair of the Working Group, lawyer Mike Radford, has advised that on this occasion, Defra cannot look to science to steer the policy and that this has to be a political and public opinion decision. It must go back to parliament.

The Working Group has, however, concluded that retaining the status quo is not an option – action needs to be taken.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said today: “What an utter waste of time and effort – we are right back where we started. We warned that Defra’s insistence on only looking at scientific studies would result in too little evidence, because this is not a subject that has been of academic interest – so the studies are not there. However, there is a great deal of observational evidence including studies and video, that indicates that animals in cages on the backs of lorries, constantly travelling in deprived and unstable environments, compromises animal welfare. What we need is a dose of common sense in this decision.”

A 2005 Mori poll commissioned by ADI found that 80% of the public wanted to see a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, and 65% wanted to see a ban on all animals in circuses.

Jan Creamer: “The public wants a ban, parliament wants a ban. Parliament has demonstrated its will consistent, with overwhelming votes – with hundreds of MPs signatures – in support of motions calling for an end to the use of animals in circuses going back to 1998.”

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