Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Wycombe Council vote to allow animal circuses is a disgrace – says Animal Defenders International

Posted: 25 November 2008

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has expressed bitter disappointment over Wycombe District Council’s marginal vote to allow performing animal circuses to be allowed on council land.

Circuses using animals have been banned in the district since 1992. However, after calls from a circus to allow them on council property, councillors narrowly voted through the proposal with the Chairman using his casting vote in favour of overturning the ban.

Circus owners claim there is no scientific evidence to suggest animals should not be used. However, ADI has produced a wealth of film footage and photographs, taken by undercover officers in the UK and worldwide. Our findings reveal animal welfare is inevitably compromised by the travelling and temporary nature of the circus, with animals often confined in small spaces, and some animals suffering physical and psychological abuse. In addition, scientific studies of the effects on animals in captivity and transport in a range of industries have provided evidence of suffering and compromised welfare. The circumstances that cause suffering in other industries are present in circuses.

After the Government missed an opportunity to ban animal circuses with the Animal Welfare Act 2006, a Circus Working Group (CWG) was established by DEFRA to gather and evaluate evidence. However, this has been roundly condemned for discounting much of the evidence before it could even be considered.

More than 180 cross-party MPs have signed a parliamentary petition criticising the CWG, and calling for the Government to fulfil its commitment to ban wild animals in circuses and to set up a proper licensing system for domesticated animals. EDM 965 is the animal welfare parliamentary petition with the third highest number of signatures, putting it in the top one per cent.

Circus animals are not currently given protection under the Animal Welfare Act as circus regulations have not yet been written. Any council that acts to allow animal circuses is getting ahead of the law.

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, says “It is extraordinary that, while worldwide awareness of animal suffering in circuses has never been greater and an increasing number of countries like Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia are seriously considering bans on animals in circuses, an English council would go backward in history. 80 per cent of the British public finds animals in circuses unacceptable, so it is a disgrace that councillors have turned their backs on animals.”

The proposed change in policy will now be put before the council’s cabinet and full council.



The ADI report ‘Animals in Travelling Circuses: The Science on Suffering’ is available from the press office, or online here:

Early Day Motion 965, tabled by Mark Pritchard MP (Con, Wrekin), states “That this House notes with concern that the Circus Working Group disregarded substantial amounts of evidence on the welfare of animals in circuses as a result of the methodology imposed by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; believes that the report of the Chair of the Circus Working Group fails to provide reliable information on this subject; and urges the Government to maintain its commitment to ban the use of wild species in travelling circuses and to restrict and limit the use of domesticated species under a strict, accountable and open licensing system.”
The list of signatories to EDM 965 can be found here:

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