Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

New Wild Animal Circus Ban EDM tabled

Posted: 11 January 2012. Updated: 11 January 2012

‘Government out of time and out of legal excuses’

Animal Defenders International (ADI) says the Coalition Government is out of time and out of legal excuses as it supports an Early Day Motion (EDM 2563) on wild animals in circuses tabled in Parliament by MP Jim Cunningham to urge the Government to stop dragging its heels over an outright ban.

The motion follows the news in December that the legal challenge to Austria’s ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, cited by ministers as the reason that the UK could not bring in a ban, has been dismissed by the Austrian courts. This clears the way for a UK ban.

The public has voted overwhelmingly for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, a Backbench Committee vote last June supported a ban, but Defra continues to work on a system of licensing instead that is not in the public interest, says ADI.

The motion, primarily sponsored by MP Jim Cunningham (Labour, Coventry South) and supported by MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Gordon Henderson, Kelvin Hopkins, Caroline Lucas and Bob Russell calls on the government to use its powers to introduce a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses to take effect by 1 July, and respect the will of the House, which unanimously approved a motion directing the government to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in June 2011.

Jim Cunningham said: “The country has voted overwhelmingly for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, and it is something that both the public and politicians want.

“For the government to continue with a system of licensing, they are completely at odds with the will of the nation, and demonstrating just how out of touch they are. A licensing system will not address the main welfare problems that circus animals endure and we urge Government to act now to prevent further suffering.”

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said: “Rather than recognising the will of the nation, the Government continues to consider a licensing and inspection regime for wild animals in circuses, in place of the ban recommended by ADI, all other animal welfare groups and overwhelmingly supported by Parliament.

“ADI has challenged the UK Government’s refusal to ban wild animal circuses in the face of overwhelming public and parliamentary support, and the recent decision by the Austrian Court to uphold their ban supports our case for the UK ban. If the Government continues to refuse to act, it will be directly responsible for enormous levels of unnecessary animal suffering, for years to come. There’s no reason not to proceed. The Government must act, now.”

ADI has released previously unpublished and unseen evidence that shows the failure of inspections – including sick animals being hidden from inspections, and teams of inspectors failing to notice animal care problems. The ‘Out of Control’ report provides clear evidence that an inspection system is doomed to failure.

Defra has also blocked ADI from accessing Government circus inspection reports – which only serves to prove that any inspection and licensing regime lacking the necessary transparency and accountability will perpetuate the suffering of wild animals, will not have the support of the public and will therefore fail. View the report here


Notes to Editors

Early Day Motion 2563 Ban on Wild Animals in Circuses
That this House, recalling its support for the motion approved at the backbench debate held on 23 June 2011, directing 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, recognises that despite unanimous support for the motion from hon. Members on a cross-party basis, the Government has been unclear in its willingness to listen to the will of the House; believes that a licensing system will not address the main welfare problems that circus animals endure and may inadvertently encourage a new era of wild animal imports for circus use; underlines that routine abuse against animals will continue to occur in circuses until there is an outright ban; and urges the Government to take immediate action to fulfil the will of the House by enacting a ban on wild animals in circuses.

Austrian Court Challenge
In December the Austrian Constitutional Court in Vienna announced that it had thrown out the application by Circus Krone to overturn Austria’s ban on wild animals in circuses.

The Government had claimed earlier this year that there were legal impediments to a ban, and cited the upcoming Krone case – even before it had been lodged.

The Austrian Court told ADI that it: “could not find that such a ban would encroach on the applicant’s right “to practice every kind of gainful activity” guaranteed by the Basic Law of 21 December 1867 on the General Rights of Nationals in the Kingdoms and Länder represented in the Council of the Realm. Though the ban was interfering with this right, this interference was based on public interest (namely the protection of the animals) and both necessary and appropriate for the legislator to reach this goal. Thus the interference with the applicant’s right was justified and proportional.”

Decision on, G 74/11, V 63/11, taken on December 1, 2011 can be viewed at:

Opinion Poll votes finds 72% support a ban:
Earlier this year, 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.

Defra Public Consultation votes for a ban:
In 2010, 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.

Animal Circus Bans Worldwide:
National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have already been adopted in Bolivia, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Peru, Portugal, Sweden, Singapore, Costa Rica, India and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in Brazil, Chile, `Colombia and Greece.

Inspections would not have saved Anne at Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus:
An ADI investigation into the winter quarters of Bobby Roberts Super Circus this year revealed a staggeringly high level of violence and serious animal husbandry flaws. Incidents included Anne, an elderly, severely arthritic 57 year old elephant, being hit with a metal pitchfork and kicked around the face and body 48 times over the period of observation by workers, who are also seen beating and spitting on a camel and beating miniature ponies and horses on numerous occasions.

At the request of ADI, and given enormous public concern over the case, the Director of Public Prosecutions has agreed that the Crown Prosecution Service take over proceedings with the case to be heard in June 2012.

Inspections would not have uncovered abuse of elephants at Great British Circus:
In 2009 ADI released undercover footage of the use of elephants at the Great British Circus and this exposé put wild animals in circuses back on the political agenda. This evidence was presented to Government which helped prompt a public consultation on animal circuses in December 2009. The footage can be found at the following link:

Media Contact:
Phil Buckley
Media Relations Director
Animal Defenders International
07716 018250, 0207 7630 3344

Animal Defenders International
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.


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