Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

The circus name that became synonymous with animal cruelty has gone animal free

Posted: 21 October 2010

Animal Defenders International (ADI), the animal protection organisation leading a worldwide campaign to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, has learnt that at long last, Chipperfields’ Circus will be animal free when it appears in Cambridge this month.

It is the first time that the circus has appeared in the UK since being exposed by ADI in 1998. Between 1996 and 1998, ADI field officers worked undercover inside three circus establishments run by different members of the Chipperfield family: Chipperields’ circus as it toured with animals owned by Dicky Chipperfield; Chipperfield Enterprises the Oxfordshire lion and tiger breeding centre owned by Dicky Chipperfield; and Mary Chipperfield Promotions, the huge training and animal dealing operation run by Mary Chipperfield in Hampshire.

The investigation released as the Ugliest Show on Earth is credited with bringing the UK’s animal circus industry to its knees. The investigation also featured several other UK circuses and within six months of its release half of the UK’s animal circuses had closed.

This investigation led to successful convictions for cruelty to animals of Mary Chipperfield and her husband Roger, jail for their elephant keeper Michael Gills, and subsequent closure of all three circus enterprises in the UK. Chipperfield Enterprises and Mary Chipperfield Promotions closed down.

Tim Phillips, Campaigns Director for ADI said: “Just over a decade ago, I was working undercover looking after lions and tigers at Chipperfield Enterprises in Oxfordshire that were living in deplorable conditions. Our ADI team also went undercover at Chipperfield’s Classic Circus as it toured southern England and at Mary Chipperfield Promotions in Hampshire. We exposed confinement and suffering at all three and the physical abuse we recorded shocked a nation.

“I never thought we would be able to say to people go and visit a Chipperfields’ circus. I have to say that I am a little surprised, but happy, and this decision really proves that circuses can go animal free. This is a real sign of the times. I hope the Government who are currently preparing an announcement on whether or not to ban wild animals in circuses are taking note.

“Animal suffering in UK circuses is not yet a thing of the past. Last year we filmed sickening abuse and chaining of the elephants with the Great British Circus as it toured the UK. It was horribly reminiscent of that investigation a decade earlier and confirmed that little had changed behind these scenes in the ensuing years. There are less animal circuses but the suffering goes on. It is vital that the Government acts.”

The Coalition Government have promised an announcement this autumn on a ban on wild animal acts and 134 MPs have now 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.

Tim said: “If even Chipperfields’ Circus see it is time to go animal-free, surely it is time for the Government to acknowledge that a ban on wild animal acts is now almost five years overdue.”

The Chipperfield name is leased out by Dicky Chipperfield, Mary’s cousin, and the new ‘Chipperfields’ All Human Circus’ will be based at Cambridge, Midsummer Common, 22-31 October 2010.

There are still several members of the Chipperfield family involved with performing animals.


Media Contact:
Phil Buckley, Media Relations Director, Animal Defenders International,, 07716 018250, 020 7630 3344


The investigations took place at Chipperfield Enterprises, Chipperfield Classic Circus, and
Mary Chipperfield promotions.

Mary and Roger Crawley were convicted of cruelty to animals in January 1999. Their
elephant keeper Michael Stephen Gills had been jailed for four months for similar offences
at the end of 1998.

The expose concluded that daily life for circus animals is one of environmental deprivation, stress, and physical and verbal abuse and the report included: lions and tigers shouted at, poked and struck with metal bars about the body or in the face and stones were lobbed at lions and tigers to move them at Chipperfield Enterprises. The Elephant keeper Steven Gills repeatedly attacked the elephants using chains, shovels, pitchforks and metal bars. His frenzied attacks involved up to 32 blows to the face of a helpless chained elephant. Gills also hit a bear, tigers, and beat a chicken to death against a wall.

Mary Chipperfield and her husband Roger Cawley were filmed hitting elephants across the face with various weapons including whips, pitchforks and buckets. Both hit camels about the head, face and body and Mary Chipperfield thrashed and kicked an infant chimp called Trudy.

Acting on ADI evidence, the police charged Michael Stephen Gills who pleaded guilty to all charges and was jailed in November for four months and banned from working with animals for five years and Mary Chipperfield was found guilty on twelve counts of cruelty relating to Trudy, and Roger Cawley guilty on one count relating to Flora.

When Chipperfield Enterprises closed, Dicky Chipperfield moved to France to train circus animals where again he was filmed by ADI field officers hitting a tiger in the face with a metal pole during a training session.

Photographs and video are available from the various ADI investigations.

Animal Defenders International (ADI)
With offices in London, Los Angeles, and Bogota 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.

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