Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Animal Defenders International applauds North Lanarkshire Council for voting to ban animal circuses

Posted: 13 March 2012. Updated: 13 March 2012

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is delighted that North Lanarkshire Council has decided to ban all travelling circuses with performing animals from its land.

This decision follows a recent announcement by East Ayrshire Council who voted to ban animal circuses on their land and compliments a motion which was introduced in the Scottish Parliament last week calling for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.

Jan Creamer, ADI’s Chief Executive said: “North Lanarkshire Councillors are to be applauded for their decision which prevents animals in circuses performing on Council land. Scottish Councils continue to send a strong signal to Government that it is time for national bans to be introduced and demonstrates the key role that local authorities can play to stop animal suffering in circuses.”

“We are encouraged that the Scottish Parliament is taking a proactive lead on this important animal welfare issue as pressure continues to mount on the British Parliament to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.“

“As the Scottish Parliament tables a motion calling for a ban and the British Parliament continues to consider its position in the face of overwhelming evidence and public opinion that clearly points toward a ban, we hope that the respective Governments will recognise, through the activities of these Councils, the public and politicians, that the UK is calling for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses and demands it - now.”

North Lanarkshire Council has refused applications from Bobby Roberts Super Circus to lease Council land. This is the very circus that ADI caught on film last year abusing ‘Anne’, the last remaining circus elephant. ADI’s graphic footage showed Anne permanently chained up and beaten and the public outrage led to Anne being removed from the circus. Anne was one of the last wild animals to visit Scotland and ADI hopes that she is the last.

South of the border, the UK Government has recently announced a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, but continues to press ahead with a system of licensing, a decision that has been derided by Animal Defenders International as cynical, misleading and deliberately disregarding the will of Parliament.

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 last year 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.

Tim Phillips ADI Campaigns Director said: [i}“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.”

“Whilst Defra prevaricate in England, we are urging the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly to press ahead and ban the use of wild animals in circuses. Constantly travelling from place to place and living almost the entire year in temporary accommodation, the welfare of these animals is inevitably compromised.”



Media Contact:
Angie Greenaway, Animal Defenders International, 0207 7630 3344,

North Lanarkshire Council’s decision
This week ADI received written confirmation that the Policy and Resources Committee, at its meeting on 8 March, endorsed the decision of the Policy and Resources (Property) Sub-Committee to prevent circuses on council land.

  • Minutes of Policy and Resources (Property) Sub-Committee - see item 6, point 7 on page 4 (marked 7 3) which states that the Committee proposes that “the current policy be amended to cease leasing Council land for circuses and fairgrounds” – view here
  • Report on proposed lease of site at Strathclyde Park, Motherwell to Bobby Roberts Super Circus on 1-8 or 8-15 July - committee recommends request refused (and in light of decision, it will be) – view here
  • Proposed lease of site at West End Park, Coatbridge to Bobby Roberts Super Circus on 1-8 or 8-15 July - committee recommends request refused – view here

The decision follows other local bans achieved in councils nationwide. For example, last month and in 2011, East Ayrshire and Allerdale Councils banned animal circuses on their 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.

Motion tabled in the Scottish Parliament
On 7 March Christine Grahame MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, tabled this motion in the Scottish Parliament: “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.”

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 the 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. View 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

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.

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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