Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Circus association misjudges political mood over wild animal ban

Posted: 17 June 2014. Updated: 27 June 2014

MPs rally for bill to be passed

June 13, 2014: Animal Defenders International (ADI) has called out the circus industry over claims made in a statement issued in response to the news that the promised ban on wild animals in circuses had been omitted from the Queen’s Speech.

Although progress to secure the circus ban has been painfully slow to date, the industry’s pleasure at what it calls a “sensible decision” made by Government could be short-lived as Defra has maintained its commitment to introduce legislation “as soon as Parliamentary time allows”. House of Commons Leader Andrew Lansley echoed that sentiment today, stating “it is the Government’s intention to make progress on this”.

MPs are rallying together to ensure that this popular bill is passed swiftly; over 200 MPs have already called for action to be taken on this issue to date and just this week a new Early Day Motion was tabled by politicians from all major parties. EDM 60 ‘Wild Animals In Circuses’ expresses disappointment that the ban on wild animals in circuses was not included in the Queen’s Speech last week, despite repeated pledges from Government, and calls for legislation to be introduced.

ADI President, Jan Creamer, “The circus industry’s comments demonstrate how sadly out of step it is with the public and political mood on this issue. A ban on wild animals in circuses enjoys overwhelming support and politicians remain as determined as ever to respond to public sentiment. We urge the Government to keep its promise and pass legislation ahead of the General Election. Further delay is inexcusable.”

ADI has led the campaign against the use of animals in circuses for over 15 years and its undercover footage has shocked the nation, leading to cruelty convictions of circus staff. The inherent suffering and commonplace violence in the industry exposed by ADI has changed public attitudes and seen the number of circuses with wild animal acts plummet from 20 to just two within 15 years.

ADI’s video evidence of behind-the-scenes animal cruelty has been tested by the courts and used to secure convictions in both the UK and abroad. Most recently in the UK, over 500 hours of footage was used in evidence against circus owner Bobby Roberts, who was subsequently convicted of cruelty to the circus elephant, Anne.

The images secured by ADI of Anne the elephant sent shockwaves across the UK and this, together with previous footage of cruelty in other circuses touring the UK, led to a commitment by the Government to introduce a circus ban “at the earliest opportunity”.

The Government announced in March 2012 its intention to introduce legislation to prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses. The Draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill was published last April with a proposed implementation date of December 2015, but progress has since stalled.

Earlier this year, David Cameron reaffirmed his commitment to ban wild animal acts to an ADI delegation headed by former Conservative MEP and conservationist Stanley Johnson, and social justice campaigner Peter Tatchell. The pair delivered a letter to the Prime Minister calling for urgent action on a circus ban which was signed by 75 celebrities and politicians including Dame Judi Dench, Brian Blessed, Dominic West, Eddie Izzard, Julian Clary, Michaela Strachan, Prunella Scales CBE, Timothy West CBE, Ann Widdecombe, June Brown, Ben Goldsmith and Shadow Environment Secretary Maria Eagle MP. Sir Paul McCartney, Ricky Gervais, Sir Roger Moore, Imelda Staunton and Brian May have also spoken out to support the campaign.

Delays in bringing in the ban have seen the return of big cats to the UK – a lion and tiger act from Ireland presented by Thomas Chipperfield, a relative of the notorious Mary Chipperfield, who was prosecuted for animal cruelty following an ADI exposé in the late 1990s. The animals are forced to perform with Peter Jolly’s Circus, one of only two circuses still touring with wild animals in England, and the only act of its kind in the country.

The continued use of wild animals in circuses is widely opposed by vets, animal welfare experts, animal protection groups, politicians and a huge majority of the public. A Defra consultation on the issue resulted in 94% of respondents supporting a ban. 27 countries worldwide have already introduced national measures on this issue, and over 200 local authorities in the UK have banned circuses from public land.

As part of its global Stop Circus Suffering campaign, ADI has secured a number of bans in Europe and South America and recently rescued and relocated 25 lions in Bolivia – documented in the award-winning action-documentary Lion Ark. ADI is currently liaising with the authorities in Peru to assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of its wild circus animals and has offered to assist in the relocation of animals in Britain to sanctuaries where they can be rehabilitated.

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Images and video of animals in UK circuses are available on request

ADI evidence of behind-the-scenes suffering of circus animals in the UK includes cruelty to elephants, a baby chimpanzee and other animals, resulting in cruelty convictions against Mary Chipperfield, her husband Roger Cawley, and their elephant keeper, Michael (Steve) Gills ADI also exposed beatings of elephants by their trainer when the act was travelling with The Great British Circus in 2009; evidence of cruelty to Anne the elephant by a groom at Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus was released in 2011 and resulted in the conviction of the circus owner for excessive chaining and failure to protect Anne from cruelty, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006

DEFRA “We are committed to banning the use of wild animals in circuses and will introduce legislation... as soon as parliamentary time allows.”

Andrew Lansley MP, in response to a question from Nic Dakin MP about when the Government will bring forward legislation on the circus ban “It is the Government’s intention to make progress on this”

ADI exposé of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus

EDM 60 “Wild Animals In Circuses”

Prime Minister receives letter signed by 75 celebrities and commits to ban wild animals in circuses

“The Government will seek to introduce primary legislation at the earliest opportunity to achieve its much-stated desire to ban travelling circuses from using performing wild animals.”

Twitter #circusban

National restrictions on performing animals in travelling circuses, either wild or all animals, have been enacted in 27 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, and Taiwan. Similar laws are under discussion in the UK, Brazil, Chile, Malta, Mexico and The Netherlands.

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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