Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Prime Minister fails to explain wild animal circus ban delay

Posted: 7 March 2012. Updated: 7 March 2012

During Prime Minister’s Question Time today, Conservative MP Mark Pritchard pressed David Cameron on whether a ban on the use of wild animals would be introduced before the next general election. Again the Prime Minister failed to give any indication of the timescale on this simple matter, instead reiterating that the Government is putting a regulatory scheme in place in the short term.

Mark Pritchard MP: "The Prime Minister’s response failed to give any commitment to a ban within this Parliament. This will come as a huge let down to millions of people in the UK who support an outright ban. It appears last week’s Defra statement was all smoke and mirrors. Without a timetable there will be no ban".

Last week’s announcement by Defra that the Government intended to ban wild animals in circuses but was actually introducing a regulatory regime has been derided by Animal Defenders International (ADI) as misleading and deliberately disregarding the will of Parliament after back bench MPs voted for a ban last year.

Tim Phillips, ADI Campaigns Director: “This is cynical politics at it’s worst. Saying one thing whilst doing another. Animals, public and Parliament deserve better. The proposed regulations cannot possibly protect animals from the abuses that ADI has exposed behind the scenes in circuses, such as Anne being beaten and chained to the ground. In fact our investigations have shown how inspectors have been regularly duped by circuses concealing violence, chains used to shackle elephants, and even hiding sick animals.”

“By choosing regulation instead of a ban, Defra are doing something incredibly complex and doomed to failure instead of simply ending the misery. All they will do is add a veneer of respectability to a disgraced industry that has been repeatedly caught on film inflicting suffering on animals. Little wonder the only people welcoming this news are the circuses with wild animals. The whole thing stinks.”

The evidence collected by ADI of suffering and abuse of animals in circuses is overwhelming and has led to consistent calls for a ban for decades. Last year, an opinion poll commissioned by ADI revealed 3 in 4 of the public want a ban on wild animal acts and, in Defra’s own public consultation, 95% of respondents supported a ban.

Last year’s back bench debate which concluded with a unanimous vote for a ban was led by Conservative Mark Pritchard MP, Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick (a former Defra Minister) and Liberal Democrat Sir Bob Russell MP. Today a motion calling for a ban was introduced to the Scottish Parliament by Scottish National Party MSP Christine Grahame.

Tim Phillips: “The public and Parliamentarians all want a ban, but instead we have a handful of circuses making Defra and the Prime Minister jump through hoops rather than actually deal with the problem. It’s simple, if Defra and the Prime Minister really want a ban, then do it, not just talk about it.”

The motion before the Scottish Parliament says: “That the Parliament believes that there is no place in a modern Scotland for circuses that feature captive wild animals whose lives involve performing unnatural tricks for public entertainment and who undergo constant travel, confinement and a lack of companionship with their own species; considers that this represents a long-outdated understanding of animals and their needs; notes that, although the timescale for introducing such a ban is unclear, the UK Government has made a commitment to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England; is concerned that developments in England could encourage travelling circuses with wild animals to relocate to Scotland, and urges the Scottish Government to, as soon as possible, make a clear, timetabled commitment to ban from Scotland travelling circuses with wild animals.”


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