Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Wild animal circus ban one step closer as celebrities, MPs and campaigners unite to back new bill

Posted: 3 September 2014. Updated: 3 September 2014

An end to the use of wild animals in British circuses has moved one step closer today following the introduction of a new bill by former Labour Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP. Animal Defenders International (ADI), who are spearheading the campaign to ban such acts, are backing the bill, rallying the support of celebrities Ricky Gervais, Dame Judi Dench and Brian Blessed, as well as social justice campaigner Peter Tatchell and supportive MPs who joined ADI and Jim Fitzpatrick MP outside the Houses of Parliament ahead of the launch of the bill, which will have its Second Reading this Friday, 5th September.

Former Labour Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar and Limehouse, who introduced 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.”

Social justice campaigner Peter Tatchell who joined ADI outside Parliament today to support the new circus bill 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.

Veteran actor Brian Blessed, who was unable to join ADI outside Parliament, 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.”

Outspoken comedian and long-time ADI supporter Ricky Gervais: “The British government needs to stop stalling and bring the ban into law. Animals deserve our respect and compassion and, for those currently subjected to a life in the circus, they need action to be taken. They have suffered long enough. I support Animal Defenders International’s campaign to stop circus suffering.”

Dame Judi Dench has given her wholehearted support for a circus ban: “It is unbelievable that there is still no ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. 27 countries around the world have taken action on this issue, so why haven’t we? I give my full backing to Animal Defenders International to stop the suffering of circus animals.”

Contact: Jenny Platt 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

The Wild Animals in Circuses Bill was introduced on Wednesday 3rd September by Jim Fitzpatrick MP. Co-sponsors of the bill are Jim Dowd, Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge; Roger Gale, Conservative MP for North Thanet; Philip Hollobone, Conservative MP for Kettering; Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge; Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton, Pavilion; Naomi Long, Alliance MP for Belfast East; Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West; Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East; Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon; Hugh Bailey, Labour MP for York Central, Russell Brown, Labour MP for Dumfries and Galloway; Thomas Docherty, Labour MP for Dunfermline and West Fife.The text of the Bill is the same as the draft version published by the Government and scrutinised by a Committee of MPs last year. The second reading of the Bill will take place on Friday 5 September.

Letter to David Cameron with 75 celebrity and politician signatures

Letter from David Cameron: “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”.

Sky News: Cameron stands by wild animal circus ban

ADI exposé at Peter Jolly’s Circus – Daily Express

ADI exposé of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus

Circus bans worldwide

Twitter #circusban

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, and educates the public on animals and environmental issues.

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