Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Developments with wild animal circuses ban

Posted: 4 July 2011. Updated: 4 July 2011

Momentum must be maintained

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has listened intently to the comments from the Prime Minister and his Defra Minister over the past 24 hours regarding proposals for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. Although Downing Street signalled last week that it will bow to pressure over MPs demands for a ban, clearly there is no room for complacency and momentum must be maintained.

At Prime Minister’s questions yesterday the Prime Minister congratulated the Back Bench Committee for their work, stating that he believed that they have made a difference in Parliament, and that it is right that the House of Commons discusses and then votes on relevant motions.

However, he implicitly referred to the issue of circus animals when he said that “it has been a year of ‘Bread and Circuses’”. ADI is disappointed that the Prime Minister appeared to trivialise the suffering of animals in circuses as a populist issue of small importance while Parliamentarians and the public are asking for decisive action from his Government.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said: “We were encouraged by the Prime Minister’s comments yesterday, where he appeared to at last recognise the will of the House and ultimately start listening to the will of the nation.

“We also remind the Prime Minister that wild animals in circuses are an issue of great importance to the public, who have had enough of his Government’s delays and procrastinations. A unanimous decision was made last week by cross party MPs to ban the use of wild animals in circuses by July 2012, and it would be sheer contempt for the Government to continue to ignore the calls for a ban.

“The public has demanded a ban, animal welfare groups have demanded a ban and politicians have now made it abundantly clear that they demand a ban. A ban is therefore in the public interest.”

Today at EFRA questions, Jim Paice MP, the Government Minister responsible sent mixed messages. Firstly, he stated that Government “will listen to the views of the House”, “is sympathetic of the motion to ban”, and is “taking active steps towards finding a way to ban.”

However, the Minister then went on to say that Defra was still progressing with a licensing regime in the interim and that banning under secondary legislation was not the right way forward.

ADI has already conclusively addressed this point for the Government in legal advice which confirmed that there is no need for primary legislation to introduce an outright ban, and that it can indeed be implemented through regulation, provided there is the political will. Defra has had this information in its possession for a considerable period of time.

Gavin Shuker MP, Shadow Defra Minister said: “There seems to be confusion at Defra”, and “why does he continue to frustrate the will of the House”, when referring to the Minister. Mr Shuker also pressed to seek a commitment from Government to ban in this parliamentary session.

Tim Phillips, ADI’s Campaigns Director said: “Government continues to give with one hand, but take away with the other. Defra appears to be continuing to pontificate over legalities, but our lawyers have already put these matters to rest.

“Politicians have sent a clear instruction to the Government and they should now proceed with a ban and ditch the whole idea of a licensing regime as an interim measure, which will put additional burden on the taxpayer. ADI will continue to fight to ensure that this ban becomes a reality.”

ADI is calling on people to write to their MP and Defra, requesting that they respect the will of the nation and implement a ban as soon as possible.

National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have already been adopted in Bolivia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Singapore, 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.



Media Contact:

Phil Buckley, Media Relations Director, Animal Defenders International, 07716 018250, 0207 630 3344,

Photographs and footage is available. Interview opportunities are available on request.

Last month, ADI released the results of its independent online poll carried out by YouGov, which asked impartial participants aged over 18 to what extent they would support or oppose a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. A massive 72% of the public backed a ban with only 8% against – almost 3 out 4 members of the public therefore wanted a ban.

Last year, a survey by Defra (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) resulted in a huge 94.5% public support for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.

A recent independent parliamentary poll conducted by ADI found that 63% of MPs would like to see a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses and only 14% disagreed.

Politically there is cross-party support for a ban, with 199 MPs from all parties having signed EDM 403 calling for a ban, making this the 7th most signed EDM in Parliament out of 1790 motions tabled.

MP Mark Pritchard’s motion for debate was: that this House directs the Government to use its powers under Section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to introduce a regulation banning the use of all wild animals in circuses to take effect by 1 July 2012.

Prior to the debate reports were circulating claiming that the Government has issued a strict instruction for their members to attend and vote against a ban. It had also been suggested that the Prime Minister had become personally involved in the initiative. A Downing Street source has since confirmed that: “The Government will recognise the will of the house.”

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