Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Wild animal circus ban blocked again

Posted: 24 October 2014. Updated: 24 October 2014

Romford MP claims Government involvement

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has questioned whether Government is sabotaging its own efforts to prohibit wild animal circus acts after the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill introduced by Jim Fitzpatrick MP was blocked for a third time.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “The Government must answer to the public and parliament if they are indeed trying to block the circus bill as claimed. Playing political football with the lives of animals continuing to suffer in British circuses is unforgiveable. The Government must come good on its promises and ensure this bill passes.”

Jim Fitzpatrick MP said: “I hope that when the Circus Bill returns to Parliament that common sense will prevail and it will finally be possible to move this important Bill forwards.”

The Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, introduced on 3rd September and which has the same wording as draft legislation published by Government last April, seeks to secure the ban promised by Government in 2012 ahead of the General Election, to ensure that the proposed implementation date of December 2015 is met. The ban enjoys cross-party support as well as that of the public and animal protection groups.

The circus Bill was blocked today by Conservative MP Philip Davies for reasons as yet unknown. Conservative MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell blocked the circus Bill on two previous occasions claiming earlier this week he was “asked” by Government to do so. He has since stated that his actions were “supported” by Government.

However, the Government yesterday reiterated its support for a ban, with William Hague stating “we want to legislate on this matter”, in response to questions over “contrived” dealings by Jim Fitzpatrick MP who tabled the Bill.

Mr Rosindell was previously connected with the now defunct Great British Circus, and appears to still have close ties with the industry. On Wednesday, animal trainer Rona Brown told a Parliamentary committee in Catalonia that an MP “said ‘No’” to the Bill in Parliament last week and “the same thing will happen” this week.

Although the Government has repeatedly stated that it remains committed to ban what the Prime Minister calls an “outdated practice”, little progress has been made to end the use of wild animals in circuses. As a result, as feared by ADI, there has been 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.

ADI considers that the Bill put forward by former Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP provides the best opportunity to secure the ban. It will be put forward again for a second reading on 7th November.

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 earlier this month.

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 – ironically, Defra Minister Lord de Mauley states in the draft legislation for the ban that it will “help ensure that our international reputation as a leading protector of animals continues into a new global era” – Britain is lagging behind 28 countries worldwide that have introduced prohibitions on animal circus acts. Just this week Malta passed into law a ban on all animal acts, having published its draft legislation after a public consultation which, like Britain, found that 94% backed a ban last year. 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 which is being screened across the UK from November.

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Contact: Fleur Dawes 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.

Andrew Rosindell MP’s letter to a constituent “This delay was an important and necessary step, and was supported by the Government to ensure that the European Union (Referendum) Bill can proceed quickly to its Committee stage.”

Romford Recorder: “Romford MP Andrew Rosindell labels circus bill as ‘theatre’ and was ‘asked to object’”

William Hague responds to questions from Jim Fitzpatrick MP on the Government’s support for the Circus Bill, 23 October 2014

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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