Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Former Defra Minister fronts new circus bill

Posted: 17 July 2014. Updated: 17 July 2014

Prime Minister confirms to celebrity campaigners that wild animal acts are an “outdated practice”

Former Defra Minister fronts new circus bill as Prime Minister confirms to celebrity campaigners that wild animal acts are an “outdated practice”

With the Government’s longstanding pledge to ban wild animals from circuses failing to get off the starting blocks, Animal Defenders International (ADI) is delighted to welcome a new backbench bill fronted by former Labour Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP which seeks to ban wild animal acts before the next election. ADI is calling on MPs to get behind the bill and for the Government to ensure its smooth passage through Parliament.

Despite its omission from the Queen’s Speech last month, the Government continues to state that it remains committed to the ban. Just this week ADI received a personal letter from the Prime Minister.

David Cameron writes, “While the recent Queen’s Speech did not contain the Government’s proposed Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, let me reassure you that it remains our position that the use of wild animal acts in travelling circuses is an outdated practice and that we will introduce a ban as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.

The communication from David Cameron was in response to a letter signed by ADI and 75 celebrity and political campaigners including Eddie Izzard, Julian Clary, Moby, Michaela Strachan, Brian Blessed , conservationist and former MEP Stanley Johnson and social change campaigner Peter Tatchell, urging the Government to bring forward legislation to ban wild animals in circuses. On the day it was presented, in April, the Prime Minister confirmed to the ADI deputation, “We’re going to do it”.

The Government first announced that it would take action on this issue in March 2012 and the delay in bringing in a ban has seen the number of wild animal acts increase. As ADI had feared, we have also seen the return of big cats to Peter Jolly’s Circus, one of just two circuses still performing with wild animals in Britain. Earlier this month ADI exposed how these animals are not coping with their unnatural lives; a lion and tiger were filmed pacing up and down their ‘beastwagon’, exhibiting abnormal behaviour not seen in the wild. The big cat act is 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.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “This new bill offers an opportunity to secure the ban that the public, politicians and, most importantly, the animals have been waiting for. We applaud Jim Fitzpatrick MP for taking a lead on this and urge the public to ensure that their MP backs this important and long-overdue bill as it progresses through Parliament. For the wild animals who are continuing to suffer in the last two circuses touring Britain, let’s get this ban passed, once and for all.”

Former Labour Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP, who will introduce the bill in September, said: “I’ve been working on this issue for many years, and committed to taking action when I was a Defra Minister. It’s clear that the public and Parliament are overwhelmingly in favour of banning wild animals in circuses. It is unacceptable that animals continue to suffer as they travel across the country, and I hope that MPs from all parties will support this bill which will have a huge impact on the animals that are currently in circuses in Britain. I’m looking forward to working with Animal Defenders International, who are leading the global campaign on this issue, to ensure it can become law.”

Public support for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses has been consistently high for 15 years, with a Defra public consultation showing a resounding 94% of respondents supporting a ban on wild animal acts. Political support has also reflected the public mood, with MPs unanimously voting for a ban in a Commons debate in 2011, following the outcry sparked by ADI’s shocking revelations of the brutal violence and constant chaining of Anne the elephant at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus, whose owner was found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act. Early Day Motion 60, calling on the Government for a ban, is one of the most popular motions this session, winning cross party support and 71 signatures to date.

ADI leads the campaign to stop the suffering of animals in circuses in Britain and around the world. 27 countries worldwide have placed national restrictions on the use of animals in circuses, and over 200 local authorities in Britain have bans on the use of animals in circuses in place.

© Animal Defenders International 2019