Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Animal Defenders International calls for Government action as Conservative MP blocks circus ban

Posted: 21 November 2014. Updated: 21 November 2014

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has called on the Government to do more to pass the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, which has today been blocked by a Conservative MP for a fifth time. The latest setback for animals in circuses was dealt by Christopher Chope MP who has previously blocked the Bill. The Bill, which would ban the use of wild animal in circuses, has enormous public support, was demanded by backbench MPs, and promised by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Earlier this month, ADI released new footage of Britain’s last circus big cats who have been trucked to Scotland for the winter, exhibiting unnatural behaviour not seen in the wild.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “The public have been promised this ban for almost a decade and for all that time circus animals have continued to suffer in the UK. The Bill has the same wording as the Government Bill presented in 2013 to much media fanfare, but it has subsequently gathered dust. It is disgraceful that on five occasions now, individual Conservative MPs have blocked the Bill from moving forward. The Government must resolve this and stop the UK from being left behind on an important animal welfare issue."

The Wild Animals in Circuses Bill was introduced on 3rd September and seeks to secure the ban promised by Government in 2012 ahead of the General Election, to ensure that its 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.

Christopher Chope MP stated that he blocked the bill on its last reading because he believes that it should be “debated properly”. However, the issue has been debated at length, leading to a unanimous vote to ban wild animal acts in 2011. ADI wrote to Chope to advise that Jim Fitzpatrick’s circus Bill shares the exact wording of the Government’s draft circus Bill, which has been considered by the Government’s EFRA committee. Were the Bill allowed to pass, it would be scrutinised line by line. Before objecting to the circus Bill, Chope allowed an undebated Bill to pass. Conservative MPs Andrew Rosindell and Phillip Davies have also blocked the circus Bill on previous occasions.

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 November 28th.

The Government reiterated last month its support for a ban, with William Hague stating “we want to legislate on this matter” and the Prime Minister previously pledged to ban what he calls an “outdated practice”. Despite repeated promises, little progress has been made.

Britain is lagging behind 28 countries worldwide that have introduced prohibitions on animal circus acts. Just recently, 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. Public attitudes have changed and the appetite for wild animal circus acts has plummeted, with only two circuses performing with wild animals in Britain today.

As a result of Government inaction, and 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. New footage revealed by ADI shows one of the three tigers used in the act pacing back and forth inside their ‘beastwagon’ in a muddy, exposed field in North Scotland. This abnormal, repetitive ‘stereotypic’ behaviour is not seen in the wild, but is commonly observed in circuses, and indicates that the animals are not coping with their unnatural lives.

The animals are owned by Thomas Chipperfield and will be spending the winter months on show to the public in their home – the truck they travel in. The big cats are the first wild circus animals to be seen in Scotland for several years, and their arrival has caused Aberdeen MSP Kevin Stewart to call on Scotland to ban such acts which has cross-party support.

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 month.

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 which is charted in the award-winning documentary Lion Ark. The critically acclaimed film is currently being screened at cinemas across the UK with an upcoming London West End Gala Screening on December 6, attended by celebrity guests including Alexei Sayle, Bill Oddie, Bruce Kent, Meg Mathews, Sofia Hayat and Gillian McKeith.

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.

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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