Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Greece bans animal circuses

Posted: 3 February 2012. Updated: 3 February 2012


The Greek Government has banned the use of all animals in circuses following a campaign by Animal Defenders International (ADI) and the Greek Animal Welfare Fund (GAWF), backed by over 50 local animal protection groups across Greece. The new animal protection law also addresses a number of important issues concerning stray animals.

Tim Phillips of ADI, who launched the Stop Circus Suffering campaign in Greece in 2006 said: In circuses in Greece we saw horrific suffering. I remember a hippo living in a small, filthy cage on the back of a lorry with a stinking pool barely bigger than a bath tub to wallow in. This is a great day for animal protection in Greece and indeed Europe. We applaud the Greek Government for taking a strong, unequivocal stand against animal suffering in circuses.

Evgenia Mataragka of the GAWF, based in Athens said: We are delighted that Greece has said no to cruelty in the name of entertainment. We have witnessed terrible suffering of animals in traveling circuses here and these animals often have to endure long journeys by sea from Italy. Many municipalities have already banned animal circuses in Greece, so we believe that this will be a popular with Greek people.

Greece is the first country in Europe to ban all animals from circuses and similar performances. Austria currently has a ban on wild animal acts, and several European countries including Portugal, Denmark and Croatia have measures to ban or phase out wild animals in circuses.

Bolivia was the first country to ban all animals from circuses and in February 2011, ADI completed an enforcement operation with the Bolivian authorities closing down and rescuing every animal from circuses defying the law. This included relocating 29 lions to the USA as well as rescuing primates and horses.

ADI and GAWF have said they are committed to assisting the Greek Government with enforcing the ban.

In July 2011, Peru banned wild animals in circuses following an undercover investigation and campaign by Animal Defenders International. It is clear now that the days are numbered for keeping animals in travelling facilities and forcing them to do tricks in the name of entertainment. Legislation is currently being considered by the Governments of the USA, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador.

The UK will now be under considerable pressure to implement a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, which was called for by an overwhelming vote by back bench MPs last year. The British Government had cited a legal challenge to Austrias ban on wild animal acts as a reason for not implementing a UK ban. However, in December the Austrian Constitutional Court in Vienna announced that it had thrown out the application by Circus Krone to overturn Austrias ban.


Media enquiries
Phil Buckley
Media Relations Director
Animal Defenders International
0207 7630 3344

Evgenia Mataragka, , Communication Manager, 43-. 18547, Falireos 43-N. Faliro 18547, T: +30 210 3840010, Fax: +30 210 4828122, +30 6973241118,


For information Stop Circus Suffering Greece click

Article 12 of the New Greek law
Ban of use of every kind of animals in any kind of entertainment and other similar businesses

  • 1. It is forbidden to maintain any kind of animals in circuses or theatres with a variety programme, given that the animals are used in any way and for any purpose in their programme, performing, parading, or appearing in front of an audience.
  • 2. It is forbidden to maintain any animal in entertainment shows, amusement parks, in motor racing circuits, concerts, exhibitions, fairs, or other artistic or recreational festivals, given that the animals are used in any way and for any purpose in their programme.

Worldwide bans on animal circuses

Operation Lion Ark closing down Bolivias circuses
ADIs Stop Circus Suffering Campaign is active in many countries including the UK, which stands on the brink of a ban due to public and political pressure. 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, and Colombia.

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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