Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Great British Circus cruelty heads to Germany

Posted: 8 October 2013. Updated: 27 June 2014

October 7, 2013

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has expressed disappointment at reports by the BBC that tigers bred in the UK by Mr Lacey, the owner of the infamous Great British Circus, will be sent to his sons’ circus in Germany. Just last year, the Great British Circus wound up operations and relocated its tigers to a controversial Irish circus to continue performing, prompting Animal Defenders International to reiterate its call for a UK and Ireland wide ban on wild animals in circuses.

The Great British Circus earned a reputation for cruelty, violence and deception following a number of incidents exposed by ADI. ADI undercover footage released earlier this year shows tigers being lashed with whips and hit with sticks by Mr Lacey and his daughter during training. Last year, a government circus inspection report released following a Freedom of Information request by ADI revealed big cats at the Great British Circus lived the whole year in cages on the back of transporters, tigers gave birth whilst on tour and enclosures used to house the big cats were smaller than deemed acceptable in zoos.

A previous ADI investigation of the circus (then known as Circus Harlequin) filmed tigers being beaten and screamed at, a lioness being smashed in the mouth with a tent pole, and a seriously injured lioness being concealed during a welfare inspection.

The Great British Circus’ abuse of animals was not limited to big cats; in 2009, ADI video footage showed a worker and presenter hitting elephants in the face with a metal elephant hook, a broom and a pitchfork. ADI later revealed how the circus had presented Parliament with claims that they did not chain their elephants, despite continuous video evidence showing the elephants chained and barely able to move every day, for up to 11 hours.

Animals from the former Great British Circus are continuing to suffer; last week, it was reported that the same viciously abused circus elephants are touring Sweden. ADI expressed disappointment that these abused elephants are still being forced to perform, and remain in the custody of their abuser following his violent attacks.

ADI Chief Executive Jan Creamer: “It is disappointing that Mr Lacey, who ADI has documented abusing big cats and other animals, is allowed to ship animals from the UK for a life of suffering in German circuses. Many countries around the world have recognised and restricted circuses using animals, and ADI is working internationally to prevent animals being relocated to other countries to continue suffering in circuses. The UK government must listen to the public and play its part to stop circus suffering by implementing its promised ban on wild animals in circuses.”

ADI’s groundbreaking work has shown the public the severe confinement and abuse suffered by animals in travelling circuses and revealed that animals only perform when they are forced to. A recent YouGov poll showed the overwhelming public support for a UK ban on wild animals in circuses.

ADI has been responsible for championing the rights of animals in circuses in many countries for a number of years, revealing and opposing the horrific suffering that they are subjected to around the world. Over 22 countries have national restrictions on the use of animals in circuses and ADI is working to ensure circus animal suffering ends for good instead of being relocated.

Please see our website for further information on how to Stop Circus Suffering around the world.


Media contact:
Fleur Dawes
Animal Defenders International
Tel: 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

Interviews available on request

Images and footage of big cats and elephants in the Great British Circus are available from ADI, in addition to film and photographs of animals in UK circuses.

National restrictions on performing animals in traveling circuses, either wild or all animals, have been enacted in 22 countries, including Austria, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, 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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