Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Circus madness – ADI reveals suffering of Britain’s last performing big cats

Posted: 30 June 2014. Updated: 1 July 2014

Government inaction on circus ban results in continued suffering for wild animals

Animals from the only big cat act to perform in a British circus have been filmed by Animal Defenders International (ADI) exhibiting behaviour it calls “circus madness”, pacing up and down their tiny cells, indicating they are not coping with their unnatural lives. ADI is calling on the Government to end their suffering by honouring its promise, and the will of the public and parliament, and bring in a ban on wild animals in circuses ahead of the General Election.

Footage of a lion and tiger at Peter Jolly’s Circus – owned by Thomas Chipperfield, a relative of the notorious Mary Chipperfield – shows the animals performing one of a range of abnormal, repetitive behaviours called ‘stereotypies’. Stereotypical behaviour is not seen in the wild, but is commonly observed in circuses, indicating compromised welfare and suffering. ADI calls the behaviour “circus madness”.

ADI President, Jan Creamer, “Government inaction is taking its toll on these animals. The lions and tigers at Peter Jolly’s Circus, and other wild animals still being made to tour and perform with the last two circuses with such acts, need our urgent help. ADI calls on the Prime Minister to honour his promise and bring in a ban on wild animals in circuses without delay.”

Two lions and three tigers, three of whom were performing at the time, travel with Chipperfield and the circus. The oldest is a tigress called Nadia who is 18 years old. The other big cats are just 3 and 4 years old, and have many years in the circus ahead of them if the status quo remains. Sadly a fourth tiger, Neeka aged 17, was unable to enjoy what could have been her imminent retirement – she died last year soon after arriving in the UK from Ireland, where the act previously performed with Duffy’s Circus.

Nadia’s life in the circus contrasts starkly with the life she would have in the wild, where she would have limited contact with other tigers, given the species’ solitary nature, and roam and defend her territory which could be as large as 470 km2. In the circus however, Nadia and the other big cats are forced to live in cages on the back of their transporter, known as a ‘beastwagon’, where they spend most of their time, in close proximity to one another. Although an outdoor enclosure is provided, when in use, only two cats are reportedly given access at a time.

In addition to the stereotypical behaviour observed in the big cats, ADI also documented prey animals in view of predators (llamas tethered in front of the big cats); solitary herd animals (an ankole, the oldest of the animals, and a camel); animals kept in unnatural social groups; animals kept tethered or in small stalls.

ADI also obtained footage and images of many of the animal acts in the ring, which included a fox being made to ‘ride’ on the back of a donkey, and a ‘parade’ featuring the ankole, camel and zebra. For the big cat act (not filmed), two tigers and a lion were made to sit on their hind legs and jump between podiums. A tiger was also made to sit upright on a glitter ball, and a lion ‘kiss’ Thomas Chipperfield.

During the interval, children were invited to ride on the camel and photo opportunities were provided with the snakes. Camels are known to be difficult to handle and transport, and as a result of their size, strength, mobility and aggressiveness, they can be dangerous, with the ability to inflict fatal injuries. Meanwhile, snakes are known carriers of salmonella, which is of particular risk to pregnant women, the elderly and young children – the latter were documented posing with the animals.

The continued use of wild animals in circuses is widely opposed, and their unpopularity has seen the number of circuses with such acts plummet over the last 15 years to just two – Peter Jolly’s Circus and Circus Mondao.

The public has been shocked by ADI’s investigations which reveal the suffering of animals behind the scenes at circuses. The brutal violence and constant chaining of Anne the elephant at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus led to the conviction of the owner, found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act, and a commitment from Government to ban wild animals in circuses “at the earliest opportunity”.

The Government first announced its intention to introduce legislation to prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses in March 2012. The Draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill was published last April with a proposed implementation date of December 2015, but progress has since stalled. A widely opposed licensing system was introduced last year as a temporary measure – during which the number of wild animals at Jolly’s increased from 15 to 18. ADI investigations have shown that regulations cannot safeguard the welfare of animals at circuses, and is pressing for legislation to protect them.

ADI has offered to assist in the relocation of animals following a ban, to sanctuaries where they can be rehabilitated, and is currently liaising with the authorities in Peru to assist in the rescue of its wild circus animals. The story of how ADI rescued and relocated 25 lions from circuses in Bolivia following its ban is documented in the award-winning action-documentary Lion Ark.

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Watch new footage from Peter Jolly’s Circus

Images of the big cats at Peter Jolly’s Circus available on request

Stereotypic behaviour of animals confined at circuses (big cats from 47mins)

Stop Circus Suffering

ADI reveals return of big cat act to English circus

ADI condemns Jolly’s Circus for tethering animal during heatwave

Released documents shows circuses’ disregard for their animals’ needs

ADI exposé of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus

The Mary Chipperfield trial

Lion Ark The Movie

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.

© Animal Defenders International 2019