Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Mayoral Candidates urged to keep wild animal acts out of the capital and back national ban

Posted: 5 March 2012. Updated: 2 August 2013

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is contacting 2012 London Mayoral candidates, Mayor Boris Johnson (Conservative), Ken Livingstone (Labour), Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat), Jenny Jones AM (Green), and Lawrence Webb (UKIP), to make a commitment to end the use of wild animals in circuses in London.

Already some 200 local authorities in the UK have successfully banned wild animals in circuses, some going further and banning all animal acts, and this includes London Boroughs such as: Croydon, Hackney, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

ADI is calling for a commitment following the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announcement this week to delay the wild animal circus ban it acknowledges is needed, in favour of an “interim” licensing scheme. Licensing is considered inadequate for animal protection and is unanimously opposed by vets and animal protection groups.

In defiance of overwhelming public and parliamentary support for a ban, legislation has been promised for 2015 (after the next General Election), but no timetable or details have been provided.

Deferring action until 2015 means that a ban would be unlikely to follow a licensing regime, which it is felt would inevitably be deemed a “success” for the Coalition Government. ADI Chief Executive Jan Creamer described the move as {i]“Perhaps the most cynical animal welfare announcement ever made by a government.”

National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have been adopted in Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Austria, Czech Republic, Portugal, Bolivia, Peru, Singapore, Costa Rica, India and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and USA.

Conservative, Mark Pritchard MP who led last year’s Commons debate, which voted for a ban: “Without a proper commitment to legislation in this Parliament any claim to be listening to the will of Parliament is meaningless. This is a classic smoke and mirrors tactic by Number 10. Meantime, animals continue to suffer."

Jan Creamer: “Members of Parliament and the public are outraged by the cavalier attitude by Defra who have effectively disregarded a unanimous vote by backbench MPs and a call for a ban by 95% of respondents to a Defra public consultation in 2010.”

“We will be calling on the Mayoral candidates to hear public opinion, unlike the Coalition Government, and take a stand on this issue. Opinion polls over the last decade have shown consistent public support for a ban.”


Notes to Editors

Media Contact:
Angie Greenaway and Phil Buckley
07716 018250
020 7630 3344

Local authority bans and public opinion have kept the capital almost free of wild animal acts, although the Great British Circus regularly visits Barkingside in East London with lions, tigers and camels. The Great British Circus has previously been caught on films by ADI revealing: A presenter and worker beating and abusing three elephants; a worker beating lions and tigers; the son of the owner hitting a tiger and hiding a seriously injured lioness from inspectors; the circus concealing from inspectors chains used to restrain the elephants for 11 hours a day and claiming to MPs they did not use chains.

Opinion Poll finds 72% support a ban:

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.

Polls show consistent support for a ban:

  • 2011 ComRes poll, 71% of the public backed a ban.
  • 2011 Dods Parliamentary Poll for ADI asked 100 MPs whether the government should ban the use of wild animals in circuses rather than let the industry self-regulate:

- 63% of MPs agreed or strongly agreed

- 14% disagreed or strongly disagreed

- 6% did not respond.

  • 2005 MORI opinion poll commissioned by ADI:

- 80% say ban all wild animal circus acts

- 65% say ban all animal circus acts

- 90% against whipping and beating when training circus animals

- Only 7% strongly opposed the calls for bans

  • 2004 NOP poll commissioned by ADI found:

- 63% of the public wanted to see all animal acts banned from circuses

- only 8% disagreed

  • 1999, MORI poll commissioned by ADI found 72% wanted wild animals banned.

While an MP, Ken Livingstone signed an Early Day Motion calling for the Government to end the use of animals in circuses (EDM 787 Animal Defenders & Circus Animals, 1999 – signed by 217 MPs).

Animal Circus Bans Worldwide:

National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have been adopted in Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Austria, Czech Republic, Portugal, Bolivia, Peru, Singapore, Costa Rica, India and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and USA.

Inspections don’t work – ‘Out of Control’ report:

ADI has recently released previously unpublished evidence of the failure of inspections to detect animal suffering in circuses. The ‘Out of Control’ report provides clear evidence that an inspection system is doomed to failure. The lack of access to previous inspection reports confirms that a statutory licensing system that lacks transparency and accountability will perpetuate the suffering of wild animals and will also fail. View the report here

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 here

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.

Letter sent to Mayoral Candidates


Re: Statement on Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses

I am writing to ask you to issue a policy statement before the Mayoral Election, regarding the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.

Over the past decade, the evidence has mounted in support of an end to the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. Investigators from Animal Defenders International (ADI) have repeatedly exposed the violence used to keep these animals in circumstances that are not appropriate – most recently the beatings and permanent chaining of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus winter quarters, released in 2011; in 2009, the beatings and chaining (for 11 hours a day) of three elephants touring with the Great British Circus. There are many more examples.

However, apart from incidents of abuse, studies by ourselves and others have shown that, given the circumstances of constant travel, the need for accommodation to be small, lightweight and collapsible, long hours in transporters (even when the circus is not moving), it is simply not possible to keep animals such as lions, tigers, elephants and other wild animals in a manner that can maintain physical and psychological health.

These animals suffer deprived, barren environments and are seen to show the detrimental effects of an inability to control their immediate environment. The welfare standards applicable to zoos are not feasible in a travelling environment. Vets, animal behaviourists and animal protection experts are all agreed that the use of wild animals in travelling circuses must end, on welfare and ethical grounds.

Over 200 local authorities in the UK have banned animal circuses from their land, including a number of London Boroughs such as Croydon, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth and Waltham Forest among them.

National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have been adopted in Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Austria, Czech Republic, Portugal, Bolivia, Peru, Singapore, Costa Rica, India and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the UK and USA.

ADI, together with the British Veterinary Association, Animal Aid, Four Paws, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, believe we need to see a clear end to the use of wild animals in circuses, as the only reasonable and effective step to prevent suffering.

We would be pleased to hear from you a clear statement that, should you be elected Mayor of London, you would take active steps to lobby local authorities and private landowners not to rent their land to circuses with wild animals.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely

Jan Creamer
Chief Executive

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