Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI opposes call by EFRA to water down promised wild animal circus ban

Posted: 8 July 2013. Updated: 27 June 2014

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has today expressed its profound disappointment that the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA), in their report on the draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, suggests that the wild animal ban could be watered down.

Flying in the face of overwhelming public support (94.5% supported a ban in a DEFRA survey) and parliamentary support (63% favour a ban), as well as the vote of the Backbench MPs Committee in June 2011 instructing the Government to introduce a bill for a wild animal ban, EFRA has shown itself to be out of step with public thinking on this issue.

Jan Creamer, ADI Chief Executive: "We are pleased that the Government has brought a circus animal bill forward following repeated evidence of abuse and four convictions. But we are disappointed that EFRA’s review of the bill was so shallow that they decided to exclude certain animals, apparently on no evidence. The excuse that the bill is based on ethics rather than animal protection will sound like double speak to the public and ignores the evidence we have produced over the past twenty years."

EFRA clearly did not look at the real problem faced by all animals travelling with circuses: the constant travel with long hours shut in vehicles, temporary accommodation in small, lightweight facilities that can fit on vehicles. All of this contributes to a barren, deprived environment that result in abnormal behaviours in the animals, indicating that the animal is not coping with its environment and therefore suffering.

EFRA suggests that “there should be a ban on all big cat species and elephants but not on, say, snakes, camels, zebras or raccoons” who will instead “still be protected by the new licensing scheme”.

Yet ADI has shown that inspections and licensing cannot adequately protect animals. The convictions of Mary Chipperfield and Roger Cawley for beating elephants and a baby chimpanzee, the beatings of elephants at the inspected Great British Circus, as well as the conviction of circus owner Bobby Roberts, has shown that inspections do not identify abuse.

The shocking brutality that was meted out to Anne the elephant at the winter quarters of Bobby Roberts Super Circus was not identified during inspections or veterinary visits. Anne’s suffering came to light when ADI investigated and produced the evidence. Despite a conviction under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, Roberts was not barred from keeping animals. Only the media pressure forced him to give up Anne. Otherwise Anne would have remained with Roberts.

EFRA’s assertion that the public believes that there are still large numbers of elephants and big cats does not appear to be based on evidence. For example, Anne was frequently described as the “last circus elephant in the UK” and when the Great British Circus shipped its tigers off to Ireland earlier this year – the last to perform in Britain – this was also reported in the media.

EFRA’s call for evidence only requested comments on the draft legislation and did not indicate that it required seeing the actual evidence of animal suffering. Therefore this was not submitted.

ADI will be urging MPs to listen to the will of the public, and common sense, and continue to support an outright ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. The current Bill does not make it clear whether a circus can continue to travel, but not perform, with wild animals and ADI will be pressing for this loophole to be closed.



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

Interviews available on request
Film and photographs of animals in UK circuses are available from ADI

National restrictions on performing animals in traveling circuses, either wild or all animals, have been enacted in 21 countries, including Austria, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Poland, Portugal, Peru, Singapore, Sweden and Taiwan.

Animal Defenders International
With offices in London, Los Angeles 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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