Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

“Wild animal ban will help circus industry but Government must act”

Posted: 23 March 2012. Updated: 23 March 2012

Circus master Gerry Cottle: “I believe a ban will, in the end, improve the image of circuses in Britain. The animal issue has given circuses a bad name.”

Animal Defenders International (ADI) have found an unexpected ally in the campaign to end the use of wild animals in circuses – famous circus impresario Gerry Cottle. Years ago, they were locked in battle as Gerry Cottle’s Circus toured with elephants, lions, monkeys, and llamas. But today ADI applauded Mr Cottle for saying that the time has come to end the use of wild animals in circuses.

Gerry Cottle, once a leading advocate of wild animal acts in the big top, is backing the Government’s promise to ban the practice, saying he has “reluctantly decided to move on”, conceding “The animal issue has given circuses a bad name.”

“Sad as it is for me to say, I now support the ban,” said Mr Cottle. “Times have changed and this issue has to be decided one way or the other. I believe a ban will, in the end, improve the image of circuses in Britain.”

Gerry Cottle’s Circus will start touring again next month completely animal free with human only acts.

Tim Phillips, Campaigns Director of ADI says: “We have said for a long time that the tarnished image of the animal circus is holding back the circus industry as a whole. We have always advocated human only circuses, and are in fact involved in promoting a human only circus festival in Colombia in the near future.”

“However, every time our undercover investigations catch on film savage brutality in the circus, like that meted out to Anne the elephant, or the Great British Circus elephants, then people come to associate that with the big top generally. The longer the Government delays implementing the ban the more harm they are doing to animal welfare and the wider circus industry.”

Data collected by ADI in the past has shown that when animal circuses close they tend to be replaced by animal free circuses. ADI’s huge undercover investigation of the British circus industry in 1998, which led to the convictions of Mary Chipperfield and others, saw more than 50% of the UK’s animal circuses close within six months. Every one was replaced by an animal free circus. Since then animal circuses in the UK have continued to disappear leaving just four with wild animals. But the exposes by ADI have continued with the abuse of Anne with Bobby Roberts Circus particularly shocking the public last year.

In 2011 the Chipperfield Circus, which had previously been exposed by an ADI undercover investigation, finally went animal free.

Tim Phillips says: “We applaud Gerry Cottle for taking this stand. The future of circuses has to be animal free, the traditions and skills can be retained without animal suffering. A ban on wild animal acts can be the best thing to happen to the industry. It’s the best way to escape the taint of all the video footage of lions, tigers, elephants and camels living in small cages and chains being punched, kicked and beaten.”

ADI however remain sceptical about the Government’s proposals for a ban and met with Defra Minister Lord Taylor last week to press for a timetable for a ban.

ADI believe that a licensing regime and inspection system is unworkable and will merely give an undeserved veneer of respectability to circuses with wild animals whilst perpetuating suffering and abuse. The ADI report Out of Control submitted to Defra shows how inspectors have repeatedly been misled by animal circuses concealing sick animals, chains used to restrain animals and physically abusing animals between inspections.

Read the ADI Out of Control Report here

Tim Phillips says: “The only people who want regulation are the circuses with wild animals because for them it is business as usual with a stamp of Government approval. The public, Parliamentarians and now even Gerry Cottle 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.”

Earlier this year Greece banned all animals in circuses, and a few months before that Peru banned wild animal acts. National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have already been adopted in Bolivia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovenia, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Peru, Portugal, Sweden, Singapore, Costa Rica, India and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in the USA, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia.

In 2011, ADI undertook an enforcement operation with the Bolivian authorities closing down eight animal circuses that defied the ban there. Every animal was rescued by ADI and relocated including 29 lions to the USA and a baboon to the UK. ADI continues to care for the animals and has offered the UK Government every assistance in enforcing a ban here.

Media Contact:
Angie Greenaway, Animal Defenders International
020 7630 3344, 07785 552548
prdesk@ad-international.org


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