Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

New bill to ban wild animals in circuses stumbles, next Second Reading 17 October

Posted: 5 September 2014. Updated: 6 March 2015

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is disappointed that a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses has stumbled after a new bill introduced by former Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP was blocked at its Second Reading today. The campaign group joined Mr Fitzpatrick and a host of supportive MPs and social justice campaigner Peter Tatchell on Wednesday at the launch of the bill and hope that, despite the setback, the bill will progress to Committee after the next Reading on 17 October and, given its overwhelming public and political support, will pass before the general election.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “ADI is disappointed that the new circus bill has stumbled at its Second Reading but hope that it will pass unopposed to Committee next month. We urge the Government and MPs to get behind this new bill to ensure that the legislation that the public, and more importantly the animals, have been waiting for comes to fruition.”

Despite repeated commitments from the Government that they remain committed to a ban what they call an “outdated practice”, little progress has been made since they announced they would prohibit wild animals in circuses back in 2012, and legislation was drawn up over a year ago. The draft law, which the new bill will replicate, outlined an implementation date of December 2015 and with no timetable set for the government to move this forward, ADI feared time was running out. The new bill therefore offers the best opportunity to pass the legislation that has been promised ahead of the election and as originally proposed.

At the launch of the Bill on Wednesday, former Labour Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar and Limehouse, 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 expressed its dismay that whilst the Government has stalled on this issue, there has been an increase in the number of wild animals in circuses and a big cat act has returned to Britain. It fears that we could see additional animals, including species that have not been seen in Britain for years such as rhinos, hippos and bears who are made to perform in circuses in mainland Europe.

The group is spearheading efforts to pass the new bill before the election, rallying the support of other leading animal organisations. On Monday a joint letter was sent by ADI, Animal Aid, British Veterinary Association, CAPS, Four Paws, One Kind, PETA, RSPCA and World Animal Protection to the Prime Minister, urging him 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.

The campaign by ADI to Stop Circus Suffering continues to win the support of many celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Roger Moore, Brian May, Moby, Imelda Staunton, Eddie Izzard, Twiggy, Annette Crosbie and Sir Paul McCartney who have expressed their profound opposition to the use of wild animals in circuses.

Following ADI’s shocking revelations of the brutal violence and constant chaining of Anne the elephant at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus back in 2011, ADI supporter and legendary actor Brian Blessed said “now is the time for the government to legislate and put a stop, once and for all, to the draconian and humiliating spectacle of wild animals in circuses.” Three years later and action has still to be taken.

The images of Anne being repeatedly beaten sparked a public outcry across the nation, 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.

Despite having a reputation as being a leader in animal welfare, Britain is lagging behind 27 countries worldwide who have placed national restrictions on the use of animals in circuses. Over 200 local authorities in Britain have bans on the use of animals in circuses in place but circuses can still perform on private land.

As attitudes have changed to the use of wild animals in circuses, and the details of how these animals suffer revealed, the public appetite for such acts has crashed. Only two circuses now perform with wild animals, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus, and ADI has offered to relocate their animals to sanctuary. An ADI team is currently in Peru enforcing measures to end the use of wild animals in circuses, as the animal protection group did in Bolivia, as documented in the film Lion Ark.


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 took place on Friday 5 September. The Bill will now move on to Committee stage, where the draft legislation will be scrutinised by MPs before returning to the House of Commons.

Letter to David Cameron from animal groups

ADI exposé of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus

Circus bans worldwide

Lion Ark

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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