Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Brian Blessed and Peter Tatchell join former Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick to launch circus bill

Posted: 3 September 2014

Animal Defenders International (ADI), the organisation spearheading the campaign to end the use of wild animals in circuses in Britain, is backing a new bill introduced today by former Labour Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP to ban such acts. Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench have joined the call to Stop Circus Suffering in Britain, and legendary actor Brian Blessed, social justice campaigner Peter Tatchell and ADI will be joining Jim Fitzpatrick MP outside the Houses of Parliament today to mark the introduction of the bill.

Former Labour Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar and Limehouse, who is introducing the bill today said, “This Bill is a small measure which will make a big difference to the wild animals currently performing in circuses across Britain, whose suffering is only known thanks to the undercover investigations of Animal Defenders International. A ban has the support of the overwhelming majority of the public and animal welfare organisations, while parliament has already voted unanimously in favour. Years have been wasted stalling on this issue so I hope that this Bill can finally secure a ban ahead of the General Election.”

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “ADI is delighted to be supporting Jim Fitzpatrick MP on this important issue. A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses enjoys overwhelming political, and public, backing so we hope the Prime Minister and government will get behind this new bill to finally bring an end, as promised, to the suffering of lions, tigers and other wild animals in British circuses.”

Veteran actor Brian Blessed, who will be joining ADI outside Parliament today to support the new circus bill said “I fully support ADI and Jim Fitzpatrick MP in their efforts to make wild animal circuses a thing of the past. It’s about time the government stopped making promises and started taking action for our animals. Let’s do the right thing and ban this practice now.”

Social justice campaigner Peter Tatchell who will also be backing the introduction of the bill in person said with Brian Blessed and ADI said “it is wrong for circuses to subject wild animals to such physical and mental suffering.”

ADI’s shocking revelations of the brutal violence and constant chaining of Anne the elephant at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus sparked a public outcry across the nation in 2011, and led to a unanimous vote in favour of a ban from MPs following a Commons debate the same year. Anne’s owner was subsequently found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act. 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 such acts.

The current Government first announced that it would take action on this issue in March 2012 but, as ADI had feared, a delay in bringing in a ban has seen the number of wild animal acts increase and the return of big cats to Britain.

This year, ADI exposed how animals, touring with Peter Jolly’s Circus one of two circuses still using wild animals, are not coping with their unnatural lives. A lion and tiger were filmed pacing up and down their ‘beastwagon’, exhibiting repetitive, 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.

Wildlife expert Simon Adams and Stanley Johnson spoke out against circus animal suffering in Britain last month following the release of ADI’s footage of the lion and tiger.

The Government says that it remains committed to the wild animal circus ban. The Prime Minister promised an ADI deputation in April that “We’re going to do it” and in response to the joint letter from 75 ADI celebrity supporters and MPs, David Cameron reiterated his commitment to ban what he calls an “outdated practice” in a personal letter to ADI. But ADI fears time is running out.

ADI and other animal organisations have urged the Prime Minister to support the new bill and ensure it is given time to pass. ADI is also urging members of the public to ask their MP to support the bill.

ADI leads the campaign to stop the suffering of circus animals 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. An ADI team is currently in Peru enforcing measures to end the use of wild animals in circuses there and has already removed 12 lions from circuses.

Dame Judi Dench and Ricky Gervais join a long list of ADI celebrity supporters who want to see a ban on wild animal acts in Britain, including Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Roger Moore, Brian May, Moby, Imelda Staunton, Eddie Izzard, Twiggy, Annette Crosbie and Brian Blessed.

© Animal Defenders International 2019