Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Lone MP blocks popular wild animal circus ban bill

Posted: 17 October 2014. Updated: 17 October 2014

A backbench bill championed by Animal Defenders International (ADI) to bring in a popular ban on the use of wild animals in circuses has been blocked once again by Conservative MP, Andrew Rosindell at its second reading today. Inspection reports released earlier this week revealed multiple welfare and management issues at the last two remaining circuses using wild animals.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “It is difficult to comprehend why anyone would block this popular and long-awaited legislation supported by 95% of the public. As well as standing in the way of public and political will, those responsible are also sabotaging efforts to bring the suffering of circus animals finally to an end. We sincerely hope MPs will respect their constituents’ wishes and back the bill at its next reading, allowing the ban to be passed.”

Andrew Rosindell MP stands alone in his support for the outdated use of wild animals in circuses. Historically he has written forewords for the Great British Circus programmes, a now defunct circus where ADI exposed shocking elephant abuse.

Although the Government has repeatedly stated that it remains committed to ban what the Prime Minister calls an “outdated practice”, little progress has been made since the Government announced it would end the use of wild animals in circuses back in 2012. Legislation was drawn up over a year ago with a planned implementation date of December 2015, but has not progressed.

The circus bill put forward by former Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick carries the same wording as the draft legislation and provides the best opportunity to secure the ban, supported by the public and needed by the animals, ahead of the general election.
It will be put forward again for a second reading on 24 October.

As ADI had feared, the delay in bringing in a ban has led to an increase in the number of wild animals in circuses and a big cat act has returned to Britain. Without a ban, additional acts could return, including species that have not been seen in Britain for years such as rhinos, hippos and bears that are made to perform in circuses in mainland Europe.

The campaign by ADI to Stop Circus Suffering is supported by a number of high profile celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Sir Roger Moore, Brian May, Moby, Imelda Staunton, Eddie Izzard, Twiggy, Annette Crosbie, Sir Paul McCartney and Dame Judi Dench, whose joint letter with ADI’s President was published in The Times last Friday.

The shocking expose by ADI of the brutal violence and constant chaining of Anne the elephant at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus in 2011 sparked a public outcry, and has been credited with securing the commitment by Government to ban wild animal acts. 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 that have introduced prohibitions on animal circus acts. Over 200 local authorities in the UK also have bans on the use of animals in circuses on public land.

As attitudes have changed and the details of how these animals suffer have been revealed, public appetite for wild animal circus acts has plummeted. Only two circuses now perform with wild animals, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus, and ADI has offered to assist with the relocation of their animals, should they agree to allow them to live out the rest of their lives in peace and with their own kind. ADI is currently working with authorities in Peru to enforce a circus ban and rehome the wild animals, as it has done before in Bolivia, as documented in the multi award-winning film Lion Ark.


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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.

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