Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

From Big Brother to the Big Top

Posted: 17 March 2006


EastEnders star slams new Celebrity Circus reality TV show

Film production giant behind the ‘Big Brother’ show is being called on to drop a celebrity reality TV show set in a circus, which will be screened on Sunday, 19 March 2006. The show from Endemol plans to feature celebrities performing with animals in Circo Victor Hugo Cardinali, the largest animal circus in Portugal. This comes the same week as the UK Government confirmed it will ban certain wild animals from circuses.

EastEnders TV star and ADI supporter Peter Polycarpou has been quick to condemn the new show: “I thought reality TV had hit rock bottom but I was wrong. The new benchmark for bad taste is a reality TV circus show. For anyone to be in any doubt that circus animals are mistreated and abused on a daily basis in order to train and subdue them is to be out of touch with reality. Any celebrity who does not know this is refusing to face reality."

Animal Defenders International (ADI) believes the programme will be bad for Portugal’s image with nearly two million UK tourists holidaying in Portugal each year. In the UK, where almost every animal circus has closed due to public pressure, people will be horrified that they will appear on prime time TV alongside celebrities. It was a British tourist that first alerted ADI to circus animal suffering in Portugal, kick starting a campaign supported by local ANIMAL group, that was launched there last October.

Campaigners are particularly horrified that the producers are using Circo Victor Hugo Cardinali. Last year ADI filmed inside 11 Portuguese circuses. During one show, owner Victor Hugo Cardinali was filmed jabbing a performing elephant in the face with a metal spike more than 20 times to force it to perform a trick on a pedestal. The clip can be seen on the ADI website here

Victor Hugo Cardinali admitted (in response to the footage broadcasted by two TV stations of him spiking the elephants) during a Portuguese radio interview: “I did hit the elephant because he did not want to do the trick and I don’t deny it. We can’t let an animal do what he wants to do, otherwise there is no respect and there is no reason for the trainer to be on stage”. He clearly confessed that he uses violence when training animals and that for him that is the only way for a trainer to act.

The ADI team also filmed Victor Hugo Cardinali’s sister Soledad Cardinali in her own circus repeatedly whipping a small pony during a training session.

Tim Phillips Campaigns Director of Animal Defenders International says: “Our ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign has opened people’s eyes to the suffering of circus animals. We have seen almost all the animal circuses in the UK close and the industry is in decline across Europe. This week the UK Government confirmed it will ban certain wild animals from circuses. It will be a travesty if Celebrity Circus revitalises a cruel and dying industry. If people want to see a genuine reality show about circuses they can watch our video.”

“This could be a costly blunder for Endemol. Let’s not forget that Egg’s French collapse began when Brigitte Bardot protested about an ad showing a cat being tossed out of the window, resulting in millions worth of losses. If Endemol becomes associated with the type of abuse and suffering we have documented in Portuguese circuses it could destroy their reputation too, as viewers start to turn off”.

ADI, which runs the International Network for the Protection of Performing Animals, is calling on animal protection groups in every country where Endemol has offices to lobby the company to drop the programme. They will also be contacting all of their celebrity supporters urging them to boycott any Endemol productions if the company does not adopt a policy of ensuring no animal suffering occurs in its programmes or as a result of its programmes.

Film production group Endemol are responsible for the global marketing of programmes such as Big Brother, Cosmetic Surgery Live, Celebrity Farm and Celebrity Big Brother in over 20 countries. In a series called Celebrity Military Company animals from Circo Chen, another circus exposed by ADI and ANIMAL, were used.

Miguel Moutinho of ANIMAL says: “In Portugal we are just starting to raise people’s consciousness about animals. People are starting to at last question cruel practices like bullfighting and the Stop Circus Suffering campaign we launched last year is having a very big impact. Celebrity Circus could have terrible consequences on animal protection in Portugal – this could be a huge setback.”

Both groups agree that Celebrity Circus could easily be made with a circus that does not use animals.
Click here to protest to Endemol offices worldwide.
_____________________________ENDS _____________________________


Endemol UK

  • Endemol UK productions include: Big Brother; Celebrity Big Brother; Restoration; 8 Out Of Ten Cats; Deal Or No Deal; Space Cadets; The Match; UK Music Hall Of Fame; The Orange British Academy Film Awards; The Games; Totally Frank; Comic Relief Does Fame Academy; Cosmetic Surgery Live; Fashion Rocks and Ready Steady Cook.
  • Telefónica, the Spanish multi-national telecoms and media giant, owns Endemol 100%
  • Endemol UK offices are in London, Bristol (Endemol West) and Glasgow (Endemol Scotland). The company employs up to 800 people at any one time and is part of the international Endemol group; a worldwide network of leading production companies spanning 22 countries.

Celebrity Circus show
Portuguese circus, Circo Victor Hugo Cardinali, will provide tents, animals and artists for Celebrity Circus which will start screening Sunday, 19 March 2006.

ANIMAL is run by Miguel Moutinho, its Executive Director.

Contact details are:
Rua Ferreira Borges, n.º 64 - 3.º
4050-252 Porto,| Portugal
Phone: (00 351) 222 038 640
Fax: (00 351) 222 038 639
Mobile: (00 351) 96 235 81 83

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