Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Pressure mounts on Arts Council to cut funds to Irish animal circuses

Posted: 10 October 2014

Animal Defenders International (ADI) and Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) are urging The Arts Council of Ireland to end its controversial funding of animal circuses, ahead of today’s deadline for 2015 funding applications. The leading animal protection groups state that if grants continue to be made to circuses with animal acts, the government will face a conflict of interest through its funding of the Arts Council and plans to regulate the industry.

Animal circuses have already seen their funding drop markedly in recent years. Duffy’s Circus, which features sea lions and zebra as well as domestic animal acts, has received grants from The Arts Council since 2006, peaking at €75,000 in 2008, dropping to €36,000 in 2013 and €20,000 for 2014. Grants are also given to Circus Gerbola and Fossetts Circus, which also perform with animals. The Arts Council itself receives funding principally from the Irish Exchequer and National Lottery.

Jan Creamer, President of ADI, said “The Arts Council of Ireland must adapt to changing attitudes by ending its funding of outdated and unethical animal circuses. We urge The Arts Council to pledge funds instead to talented human artists for whom their craft is one of choice, unlike the animals who are forced into their lives of performance.”

"The Arts Council has consistently ignored the documented suffering of animals in Irish circuses", says ARAN’s John Carmody. “We are glad that the Council has reduced the funding, but one Euro is one Euro too many whilst animals are suffering in chains and cages."

ADI and ARAN have previously provided The Arts Council with detailed evidence of how animals in circuses suffer. In their latest letter, the organisations respond to statements made by The Arts Council that attempt to justify their continued funding for animal circuses.

The Arts Council refers to a motion passed in the European Parliament which states “it would be desirable for it to be recognised that the classical circus, including the presentation of animals, forms part of European Culture”. The European Parliament defines classical circus as one which “offers a variety of entertaining acts in the ring, often with animals”. This indicates that the motion applies to the classical circus with or without animal acts, so the Arts Council need not finance animal circuses in order to support classical circuses.

The Arts Council states that it “in no way condones or supports the mistreatment of animals” however by providing financial assistance to animal circuses, The Arts Council is supporting the mistreatment of performing animals, as their welfare is inevitably compromised in the circus.

Although the Arts Council has a ‘welfare framework’ in place, investigations by ADI have shown that regulations cannot safeguard welfare and fail to protect animals from abuse.

ADI and ARAN state in their letter that animal circuses should not be funded by the taxpayer, and that citizens would be appalled to learn that they are unknowingly helping to prop up businesses which provide no educational or conservation value and cause animal suffering.

Opinion polls consistently show that the public remains overwhelmingly opposed to animal circuses, choosing instead to frequent human-only circuses, such as the hugely popular Cirque De Soleil, whose recent tour made an estimated $360 million, making it one of the most successful circus tours in history.

Worldwide, 27 countries have nationwide prohibitions on animal circuses, with similar laws under discussion in several more. There is currently legislation progressing through parliament which would ban wild animals from circuses in England, and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales are considering their own initiatives. While the Irish government has not committed to introducing such a ban, Minister Simon Coveney has said that a Code of Practice will be developed for circus animals, placing the government in the position of being both a funder and regulator of the industry, and presenting an unacceptable conflict of interest.

Over 200 local authorities in the UK have prohibited animal acts on public land, with several in Northern Ireland. Local councils in Ireland continue to ban animal circuses from their land with Cork and South Dublin passing bans this year and Limerick considering a ban in the coming months.

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Contacts: Fleur Dawes, Animal Defenders International
+44 (0)20 7630 3344 or +44 (0)7785 552548

John Carmody, Animal Rights Action Network
+353 (0)87-2391646

Interviews available on request
Film and photographs of animals in circuses are available from ADI

ADI and ARAN have been working to stop circus suffering in Ireland since the launch of the Stop Circus Suffering in Ireland campaign in 2005, when the organisations published findings of their investigation into seven circuses, which revealed animals suffering, severe confinement, inadequate diets and physical abuse. The organisations engage with government officials, politicians and local authorities to raise awareness about the suffering of circus animals and secure local bans in Ireland.

Stop Circus Suffering: Animal circuses in Ireland (report)

Stop Circus Suffering, Ireland (video)

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.

ARAN is Ireland’s national animal rights group, which campaigns peacefully against all forms of animal abuse, and works to promote a cruelty-free lifestyle.

© Animal Defenders International 2019