Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Circus regulations progress to the House of Commons following approval by Lords, despite concerns

Posted: 26 October 2012. Updated: 4 July 2014

The House of Lords has approved regulations on the use of wild animals in circuses, following Wednesday’s Grand Committee debate, despite concerns raised by peers including Lord Knight of Weymouth and Baroness Parminster, who said that “the majority view among the welfare organisations and indeed the veterinary profession is that adequate regulations cannot be put in place to guarantee the welfare of wild animals used in travelling circuses”.

Responding to accusations of procrastination on its promised wild animal circus ban, Lord De Mauley responded that “we expect to be able to publish draft legislation for pre-legislative scrutiny this session”. He added that the seven-year duration of the regulations would not conflict with the timescale of a ban stating that it would not “prevent the licensing regulations becoming redundant earlier”.

The regulations will next be discussed in the House of Commons by the First Delegated Legislation Committee chaired by Jim Sheridan MP on Monday 29th October at 4.30pm.

Jan Creamer, ADI Chief Executive: “Animal Defenders International is disappointed that legislation to license the use of wild animals in circuses is pressing ahead. Why is the government continuing to waste taxpayers’ money and parliamentary time to push through regulations which will not prevent animal suffering, when it has pledged to introduce a ban? It goes against the will of parliament and the public and simply beggars belief.”

Animal Defenders International (ADI) believes that the regulations are unworkable, ineffective and will not safeguard the welfare of wild animals in circuses. For example, licensing would not have prevented:

The terrible violence inflicted on Anne the elephant at the winter quarters of Bobby Roberts Super Circus in 2011. Anne’s owners are charged with three offences under the Animal Welfare Act, the trial for which will take place next month.

The suffering of the three elephants that toured with the Great British Circus in 2009, whose chaining overnight was not spotted by RSPCA and local officials (and which the circus lied to politicians about). One of the elephants, Delhi, was “chronically and obviously lame”, but the seriousness of her health issues were not picked up during early inspections and, contrary to advice, the circus continued to make her perform, despite a verbal assurance that they would not do so.

To support the draft legislation on licensing, the government has produced guidance for circus operators but this document is flawed with gaping holes in key welfare considerations. For example the document does not cover some species which are currently touring with circuses; of five groups of species, guidelines concerning the display, training and performance are only given for one group of species; and there is no restriction on breeding, which could mean that the number of animals in circuses increases.


Media contact
Angie Greenaway, Animal Defenders International
Tel: 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

Inspections don’t work – ‘Out of Control’ report
ADI has documented 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 accountabilitywill perpetuate the suffering of wild animals and will fail to serve its purpose. View the report here.

National measures to restrict either all or wild animals in circuses, have been adopted in Austria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Slovakia, Sweden, Portugal, Taiwan, Singapore, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Costa Rica, India and Israel. Similar laws are being discussed in the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Malta, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Norway.

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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