Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI launches Stop Circus Suffering campaign in Portugal on World Animal Day

Posted: 4 October 2005


British tourists urged to stop supporting animal misery

ADI’s latest campaign to end the use of animals in circuses is being launched in Portugal today - World Animal Day and the birthday of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. The press conference is taking place at the Hotel Villa Rica in Lisbon.

ADI’s partner in Portugal is ANIMAL and the launch represents the fourth ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ country launch, following the UK, Chile, and Norway.

“Portugal is another stage in bringing about the end to animals in circuses. We will take this fight to animal circuses wherever they are,” said Tim Phillips, Campaigns Director for ADI. “With various other animal welfare groups, major campaigns are planned for Greece, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador in the next year. Also, our new US office in San Francisco will provide a base for beginning our stateside campaign.”

“This campaign is particularly relevant to the UK because the circuses congregate in the Algarve during the hottest weeks of the year in order to cash in on the tourists. Our message to any tourist is wherever you go, don’t support animal misery.”

Acting on a tip off from a British tourist about a polar bear touring with a Portuguese circus in the summer of 2003, ADI began a series of investigations which ended in August this summer. An ADI field officer obtained a job with a Portuguese circus where he filmed the brutality behind the scenes. Although ADI obtained photographs of the Polar Bear, the circus disappeared and was never found again. Since then ADI has investigated 11 circuses and a travelling animal exhibition in what is the most comprehensive study of Portuguese circuses ever undertaken. ADI’s field officers witnessed horses being whipped and slapped; elephants aggressively manhandled using hooks and disturbed behaviours demonstrated by many animals – both wild and domestic.

Portuguese circuses target the tourists especially in August when half the circuses congregate in the Algarve, which means the animals live in cages at very hot temperatures, often over 35°C. As the top tourism-generating country for Portugal the UK accounts for 31.8% [1] of tourists in the area. Nearly 2 million UK visitors[2] a year are potential circus goers there.

ADI’s investigation revealed:

Animals living in inadequate, deprived and unnatural conditions. Severe confinement, a consistent factor with travelling animal circuses all over the world, was compounded by lack of space to exercise or to perform natural behaviours and lack of social interaction with their own species. There was inadequate provision of food and water. Examples of unnatural and inappropriate husbandry included baboons being kept with mountain lions.
Violence used to control animals. For example, elephants were jabbed and struck with metal elephant hooks; ponies were whipped about their bodies during training; a donkey was being kicked; a pony was hit in the face; a pig screamed whilst a worker tried to fit a collar; elephants were struck about the head.
A range of animals displaying disturbed, repetitive behaviour. This included swaying, pacing, weaving, and head bobbing, seen in bears, chimpanzees, elephants, baboons, tigers and lions. Horses were trying to bite each other and a bear was banging its head against the cage.
Circus workers failing to provide veterinary attention to injured animals.
When circuses moved town, animals were kept in their trailers for unnecessarily long periods – up to 16 times longer than a journey had actually taken.
Poor standards of public safety (and indeed animal safety).

“These findings bring shame on Portugal,” said Miguel Moutinho of Portuguese animal welfare group, ANIMAL.

ADI and ANIMAL are hosting the joint press conference at the Hotel Villa Rica, Lisbon today. ANIMAL will then be undertaking the campaign in Portugal with support from ADI. Both groups are optimistic that a major push could see the end of the use of animals in Portuguese circuses.

Portuguese experts who are backing the campaign and will be at the launch include: Augusta Gaspar, university professor of ethology; Ilda Rosa, veterinary doctor and university professor of animal behaviour and animal welfare; Alexandra Pereira, also a veterinary doctor with a PhD in clinical ethology, animal welfare and animal behaviour; Constança Carvalho, a psychologist and researcher in ethology; Gonçalo Pereira a veterinary doctor and researcher in clinical ethology and animal welfare; and Manuel Eduardo dos Santos, a biologist and university professor of applied ethology, one of the top Portuguese experts in cetacean behaviour.

_____________________________ENDS _____________________________
ANIMAL is one of the major Portuguese animal welfare organisations, which was founded in 1994. Based in Porto, ANIMAL is run by Miguel Moutinho, its Executive Director.

Contact details are:
Rua Ferreira Borges, n.º 64 - 3.º
4050-252 Porto,| Portugal
Phone: (00 351) 222 038 640
Fax: (00 351) 222 038 639
Mobile: (00 351) 96 235 81 83

[1] Eurostat: tourism in the enlarged European Union
[2] National Statistics: Travel Trends 2003 International Passenger Survey report.

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