Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Great British Circus rolls into Essex

Posted: 5 October 2010

As the Great British Circus rolls into Essex this week, Animal Defenders International asks: ‘Would people attend if they knew of the violence inflicted on the circus elephants, exposed as part of an investigation last year?

In October 2010, the Great British Circus (GBC) will roll into Chelmsford, and then Romford with its menagerie of wild animals including tigers, camels and llamas.

The GBC, which advertises itself as the “Best Circus With Animals”, was in fact exposed as a candidate for one of the worst last year when Animal Defenders International (ADI), the leading animal welfare organisation that works globally for the protection of animals, released shocking behind the scenes footage showing routine violence and confinement of circus elephants imported from Germany for the 2009 tour.

Alexandra Cardenas, ADI’s Animals in Entertainment Campaigner said that this damning evidence was then presented to Government, which helped prompt a three month public consultation of animal circuses, the results of which were condemning for UK circuses.

“We obtained conclusive evidence of these poor circus elephants chained up in small pens for hours every day, being beaten with metal hooks, brooms and pitchforks in the name of entertainment and being shut up and transported for long periods of time,” Alexandra said.

“Our investigation showed how animals like elephants suffer in the travelling circus and how the use of animals in circuses cannot be justified.”

Footage was secured from a camera concealed inside the elephant tent which depicted frightened, stressed elephants being brutally hit in the face with elephant metal hooks, brooms and pitchforks, and these highly intelligent, complex creatures were also limited for long periods of the day in a small pen, every night chained by a front and a back leg, barely able to take one step back and forward.

ADI’s exposé of the horrific abuse of elephants at the Great British Circus put wild animals in circuses back on the political agenda, and their evidence was presented to Government which helped prompt a public consultation on animal circuses in December 2009. The distressing evidence can be found at the following link:

In March 2010, a staggering 94.5% of respondents to this consultation backed a ban on wild animal circus acts in travelling circuses.

“A year on, and public and political support for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses has never been stronger,”
Alexandra said.

“It is time that politicians listened to the will of the public who, in every poll and consultation have expressed their compassion and desire to end this cruelty.

“We now need to bring to an end these draconian, cruel, restrictive, and totally unnatural circus environments and ADI is ready, willing and able to help with the eradication of the use of wild animals in circuses here, and assist in the rescue and rehoming of any of the animals as a result of a ban.”

ADI has just helped secure a ban on both wild and domestic animals in circuses in Bolivia and rehomed four lions to the Unites States and a Hamadryas baboon to the UK.

National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have also been adopted in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Singapore, Bolivia, Costa Rica, India and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in Brazil, Chile, Norway, Peru and Greece.

“All of these countries have looked at the evidence and listened to the will of the people and done the right thing by implementing bans. It is high time that the UK Government now did the same,”
Alexandra said.

The Coalition Government have promised an announcement this autumn on a ban on wild animal acts and 130 MPs have signed EDM 403 ‘Wild Animals in circuses’ since July 2010, tabled by the former Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP, calling for the wild animal ban to finally be implemented.

“It’s now approaching five years since the previous Government promised to ban wild animals in circuses. Finally, at long last, after years of vigorous campaigning by ADI, other organisations and members of the public, it looks like we may be moving closer.

“Ending the use of wild animals in circuses will remain our top priority, and we are spurred on by the evidence that we uncovered at the Great British Circus.

“ADI supporters will be attending both site venues in Chelmsford and Romford to protest and we urge members of the public not to attend the circus and effectively help us ensure that the ban becomes a reality, by visiting our website, seeing the evidence for themselves and contacting their MP to request that they sign the EDM,” Alexandra said.


Contact for further information and interview opportunities:
Phil Buckley, Media Relations Director, Animal Defenders International, 0207 630 3344, 07716 018250,


Animal Defenders International (ADI)
With offices in London and San Francisco, Animal Defenders International (ADI) is a major international campaigning group, lobbying to protect animals on issues such as animals in entertainment and their use in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI involves itself in international animal rescues as well as educational work on animals, conservation and environment. Founded in 1990, ADI has become a major force for animal protection and has succeeded through its undercover investigations in securing legal protection for animals. ADI opposes violence or intimidation whether directed at humans or other animals.

ADI’s education campaign has resulted in over 200 local authorities in the UK, banning the use of some or all animals in travelling circuses.

ADI is leading the campaign to end the suffering of animals in entertainment and currently has major campaigns running in Europe, South America, and now in the USA.


© Animal Defenders International 2019