Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

No festive cheer for British circus animals: Long-promised ban on wild animal acts blocked again by

Posted: 8 December 2014

The saga of misdirection and broken promises over the British Government’s commitment to end the use of wild animals in traveling circuses continued today as Conservative MP Chris Chope blocked the second reading of the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill for the fourth time. Public and political frustration with the Government is mounting, with the Welsh Assembly reporting poor cooperation from Defra (Department of Environment Food & Rural Affairs) with slow responses to their questions and the Scottish Parliament considering unilateral action.

It is now over two years since the Government announced its own Bill, to considerable media fanfare and wide public support. But the Bill has been allowed to gather dust, despite repeated assurances and a personal pledge to act from the Prime Minister.

To break the deadlock, former Defra minister Jim Fitzpatrick tabled a Private Members’ Bill using the same language as the Government’s own Bill, launched with support from Animal Defenders International (ADI) and a cross party group of MPs – only to see it blocked for the seventh time today.

ADI President Jan Creamer said, “This is another bitterly disappointing day for animal protection and an embarrassment for our country, with 28 other nations already having taken action. The Government is losing all credibility on animal protection. There is still time to resolve it before the General Election, but if they choose not to do it, will anyone believe a Government promise on animal protection again?”

Claims that a ban would be introduced “when Parliamentary time allows” have been shown to be disingenuous. Since the Queen’s Speech in June, only 40 of the 75 sitting days at the House of Commons have been taken up by Government business. The Queen’s Speech itself contained only 11 Bills, the lowest number for at least 20 years. With around 60 sitting days left until Parliament is dissolved for the General Election, and the majority of Bills set out in the Queen’s Speech having received a Second Reading already, there is ample time for the circus ban legislation to pass through both Commons and the House of Lords.

The Welsh Government is keen to bring in a ban but due to the time it would take to bring regulations through the Assembly the preference is to see the English legislation extended to cover Wales. Deputy Minister for Farming and Food MP Rebecca Evans stated, in response to a question from Welsh Assembly Member Christine Chapman last week that “The Welsh Government believes that there is no place for wild animals in circuses” and wrote to Defra Minister Lord De Mauley three months ago to reiterate the Welsh Government’s intent to extend the English circus ban to Wales. De Mauley’s reply, received only the day before the question was put to the Assembly, promised a meeting on the issue.

Welsh Assembly Member Antoinette Sandbach has called for more Welsh councils to prohibit circuses with wild animals from performing on council owned land, a measure which has been backed by Minister Rebecca Evans. In the UK, over 200 councils have such plans in place – but this does not prevent them using private land.

Tomorrow night (Saturday December 6th), celebrities will gather in Leicester Square for a gala screening of the action documentary LION ARK at the Prince Charles Cinema. LION ARK is the story of Bolivia’s ban on animals in circuses and the follow up enforcement operation with officials and an ADI rescue team, saving 25 lions and other animals. Since the operation, ADI evidence of behind-the-scenes cruelty in circuses has secured four further national bans in Central and South America as well as European bans. The film shows changing attitudes about the treatment of animals in entertainment and, sadly, how Britain is starting to fall behind. Attendees at the screening include Bill Oddie, Alexei Sayle, X Factor boyband Fifth Street, Gillian McKeith, Celia Hammond, Bruce Kent, Jakki Degg, Peter Tatchell, Marc Abraham and Bollywood actress Sofia Hayat.

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Contact: Fleur Dawes 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

Lion Ark and West End Gala Screening & Celebrity Fundraiser

Donate to ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom rescuing animals from Peru’s circuses:

Further information about Operation Spirit of Freedom rescue with video:

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

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