Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI calls for Animal Welfare Bill to end circus animal misery

Posted: 9 January 2006

2nd Reading in the House of Commons 10.1.06

As the Government’s Animal Welfare Bill goes for its second reading tomorrow, 10th January, Animal Defenders International (ADI) is calling for MPs to use the Bill to stop circus animal suffering.

ADI is concerned that, since the draft Bill published a year and a half ago, the Bill has been changed to increase the amount of industry protection at the expense of animal protection.

Tim Phillips, ADI Campaigns Director, said: “This hugely important Bill will not only replace outdated legislation, but will set the tone of animal protection in our society for the future. Clear and incontrovertible evidence has been produced over many years to show that, given the circumstances, travelling circuses are unable to meet the real needs of animals in terms of space, environmental enrichment, companionship and diet. Without the provision of these basic necessities, their welfare is at stake. This is what the Bill must address to alleviate their plight.”

ADI believes there are many MPs committed to making this one of the most significant pieces of animal protection legislation and hopes that the Bill will be significantly strengthened with amendments.

Tim Phillips: “In 1998, we released the findings of an extensive undercover investigation of the UK animal circus industry. This sent shock waves through the circus industry, with almost half of the animal circuses in the UK closing that year. Almost immediately, over 200 MPs signed an Early Day Motion calling for “a ban on the use of animals in travelling circuses.” Now they have an opportunity to make good that promise.”

Public opinion has continued to harden against the use of animal in circuses. A recent ADI MORI poll found that: 90% of the public are against whipping and beating of animals being trained for entertainment; 65% would like to see a ban on the use of all animals in circuses; and 80% a ban on the use of wild animals. For ADI’s MORI poll findings on ‘Attitudes towards Circus Animals’, visit:

ADI polls and observations also confirm that as animal circuses have closed, circuses without animals have replaced them. Over the past few years, significantly more people have started to visit circuses without animals.

ADI highlights the key differences between the draft Bill and the Bill now facing its second reading in ‘Notes to Editors’ below. For ADI’s evidence to EFRA visit: and click on ‘Animal Welfare Bill Evidence’.

To download the ADI report “Animal Circuses and the Animal Welfare Bill” see:

_____________________________ENDS _____________________________


Key changes since the Draft Bill which cause concern, as well as key omissions:-

  • Cephalopods ( octopuses) are still excluded, making this legislation inconsistent with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, and legislation abroad. If this legislation is to bring the UK up-to-date, then it should at least equal other legislation.
  • Some damaging changes have been made to Clause 4: Unnecessary suffering. Although it may appear to represent a tidying up, we are disturbed at the insertion of a new paragraph 4(3)(d); a get-out clause which states that any judgement of suffering should include whether it was “proportionate to the purpose of the conduct”. For performing animals, this will negate the protection of the Act and continue the situation as it stands now. It is currently legal to inflict an extreme beating on an animal in a circus (or to perform for film or TV) until it complies with what the trainer wants; it only becomes illegal if the trainer/handler continues to beat the animal after it has complied. An animal welfare act should not allow for any level of beating to be an industry norm (when no life is in danger).
  • Effectively, provision for suffering and violence in the use of animals for entertainment has been legitimised in this Bill.
  • Section 10 – regulations to protect animals – has been stripped; specific protection provisions have disappeared, or been merged and weakened. The section dealing with Regulations to promote animal welfare previously included an outline of the basic needs in the construction of accommodation. There is now a broader ‘catchall’ which is a significantly weaker proposal as a whole.

Key subsections have been removed completely, including:

consideration of the welfare of animals in light of a type of commercial use;
prohibition on the keeping of animals of a specified kind in specified circumstances;
provision for prohibiting the use of animals of a specified kind for a specified purpose.

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