Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI condemns lifting of animal circuses ban in High Wycombe

Posted: 27 February 2009

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is dismayed that a ban on animals in circuses has been lifted after 17 years in the Buckinghamshire district of High Wycombe.

A circus called for councillors to debate the rules on allowing animal circuses on district land, claiming there is no scientific evidence to suggest that animals should not be used.

ADI strongly contests this claim, and has produced a wealth of film footage and photographs, taken by undercover officers in the UK and worldwide for the global ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign. Our findings reveal that the travelling and temporary nature of a circus means that even with the best will in the world, circuses simply cannot provide animals with the facilities they need to keep them healthy, either physically or psychologically. Welfare is always compromised. 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.

The DEFRA Circus Working Group was supposed to gather and evaluate evidence. However, it has been roundly criticized for discounting much of the evidence before it could even be considered by the experts, and more than 180 cross-party MPs have signed a parliamentary petition calling for the Government to fulfil its commitment to ban wild animals in circuses and set up a robust licensing system for the use of domestic animal.

At a packed meeting of Wycombe District Council last night, councillors voted in favour of the proposal to lift the long-standing ban, despite some compassionate speeches from councillors who wanted to keep the ban.

ADI Animals in Entertainment Campaigner, Alex Cardenas was at the meeting and says “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. Two thirds of the British public want to see an end to all circuses with animals, so it is an incredibly disappointing retrograde step for Wycombe councillors to ignore animal welfare considerations for the sake of so-called entertainment. ”

For further information, contact ADI Public Relations Officer, Ally MacDonald
Tel: 020 7630 3344
Out of Hours Mobile: 07785 552548


The DVD of the ADI campaign ‘Stop Circus Suffering - UK’ is available. It can be viewed online here:

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

Photographs of animals in circuses are available on request.

Findings from an ADI Mori Poll in the UK in 2005 include:
80% say ban all wild animal circus acts and 65% say ban all animal circus acts.
90% against whipping and beating when training circus animals.

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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