Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Animal Defenders International applauds East Ayrshire Council for voting to ban animal circuses

Posted: 10 February 2012. Updated: 10 February 2012

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is delighted to learn of East Ayrshire Council’s recent unanimous decision to ban all travelling circuses with performing animals from its land.

Through this decision, East Ayrshire Council sends a strong signal to Government that it is time for national bans to be introduced to end the suffering.

Jan Creamer, ADI Chief Executive, said: “I applaud East Ayrshire Councillors for their unanimous decision to ban the use of animals in circuses on Council land.”

"This demonstrates the key role that local authorities can play to stop animal suffering in circuses despite continued Government inaction. East Ayrshire is joining hundreds of councils which have looked at the evidence of suffering and banned animal circuses. We hope that more councils will follow, and Government will recognise, through the activities of East Ayrshire Council, other Councils, the public and politicians, that this country is calling for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses and demands it - now.”

Animal Defenders International has accused the government of desperation and contradiction over its continued attempts to block a ban on wild animals in circuses, progressing with a system of licensing instead.

Last May, Defra minister Jim Paice announced to the House of Commons that a UK ban might invite a legal challenge from Europe (citing Austria), or that it might be challenged under the European Services Directive and/or the Human Rights Act. These arguments have subsequently been crushed, but still Defra looks for reasons not to implement a ban, contradicting itself along the way.

The Government continues to drag its feet over enacting an outright ban, which has received support from over 94% of the public, and an overwhelming vote in Parliament’s Backbencher’s Committee where MPs unanimously approved a motion directing the government to ban the use of wild animals in circuses by July 2012. Shortly after the Prime Minister was quoted as saying that he was ‘minded’ to ban.



East Ayrshire Council’s review of animals in circuses:
East Ayrshire Council announced in November 2011 that it was undertaking a review on “letting Council owned sites to circuses or similar types of organisations which travel with and utilise animals in their operation.”

The Council had an existing policy, approved in June 2008, to “refuse to let Council owned sites to travelling circuses or any other organisations which utilise or travel with wild and/or exotic animals, excluding birds of prey.”

In response to its request for feedback from the public, in December 2011, Animal Defenders International sent East Ayrshire Councillors a detailed written submission together with a copy of our report ‘Animals in Travelling Circuses: The Science on Suffering’ and a brief video with supporting evidence revealing that the welfare of wild and domestic animals in circuses is inevitably compromised by constant travelling and the temporary nature of animal facilities, in which severe confinement is inevitable and physical abuse commonplace.

An oral submission was made on 9 February by OneKind, on behalf of Animal Defenders International, Captive Animals Protection Society and OneKind. The Council unanimously voted to extend its policy following the submission.

The Council had already voted to ban circuses with wild animals on its land in 2008 and it is testimony to the strength of evidence that animals in circuses suffer, regardless of the species, that the Council has not only maintained its existing ban but has extended it to domestic animals too.

The decision follows other local bans achieved in councils nationwide. For example, in 2011, Allerdale Council banned animal circuses on its land and in 2009 Tendring (Essex) and Wandsworth (London) Councils discussed the issue of animal circuses on council owned land and unanimously approved a policy imposing severe restrictions to the presentation of any show, funfair or circus in which there is any reasonable doubt that the five basic freedoms from fear, pain and distress, established by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, were compromised.

Parliamentary support for UK ban:
ADI has been working with a group of committed MPs to bring pressure to bear on the government to enact an outright ban, and seventeen parliamentary questions have been tabled in December and January, followed by two further EDMs. This brings their total number of Parliamentary Questions on animal circuses during November, December and January to over thirty.

The first EDM, 2563, reminds the Government that urgent action is needed and demands a ban, in accordance with the will of Parliament and the public. The second EDM, 2586, demands that the Government release veterinary inspection reports on circuses, which have been repeatedly denied to ADI, despite freedom of information requests. These reports are clearly a matter of public interest, since they form part of Defra’s information gathering for their proposed licensing regime. Go to:

Inspections would not have saved Anne at Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus:
An ADI investigation into the winter quarters of Bobby Roberts Super Circus last year revealed a staggeringly high level of violence and serious animal husbandry flaws. Over a two-week period, 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 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 the Government and a public consultation on animal circuses followed, in December 2009. The footage can be found at the following link:
Opinion Poll votes finds 72% support a ban:
In 2011, 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, Defra announced the results of their 2009 public consultation on animal circuses, which resulted in a huge 94.5% public support for a ban.

Media Contact:
Angie Greenaway
Animal Defenders International
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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