Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

DUP pledge to ban wild animals in circuses in Northern Ireland welcomed by animal protection organis

Posted: 17 February 2015

Acts with wild animals “belong in a bygone era”.

A commitment from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to ban wild animals in circuses in Northern Ireland – acts it states “belong in a bygone era” – has been welcomed by Animal Defenders International (ADI) and Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN). The organisations’ decade-long campaign to highlight circus suffering has seen the number of animal acts fall away, and the number of local animal bans rise each year.

The commitment to ban wild animals in circuses is made in the DUP’s new policy document Challenging Cruelty which states “such practices belong in a bygone era and have no place in modern society”. The nation’s largest political party, the DUP has committed to supporting a bill to ban such acts in the Northern Ireland Assembly and in the meantime work with local authorities to prevent circuses with wild animals using public land.

Despite public support for a ban, the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and its counterparts in Dublin are presently considering a system of regulation for wild animal circuses – a move ADI and ARAN condemn as unworkable, ineffective and one that will not safeguard the welfare of the animals. The DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill has however not ruled out a prohibitive measure, recently stating that she is “very open to the possibility of banning the use of animals in circuses”.

DUP Leader at Westminster Nigel Dodds comments, “The DUP is committed to challenging cruelty in Northern Ireland and banning wild animals in circuses will be a significant step forward. DUP councillors have been campaigning on this issue for many years, and I look forward to continuing our work with Animal Defenders International and ARAN so Northern Ireland can join the 30 countries that have already taken action.”

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International said, “ADI is delighted that the DUP is the first party to announce a clear manifesto commitment to end the use of wild animals in circuses. There is enormous public support for this policy and if the current Government fails to fulfil its promise to introduce a ban before the election, people will be looking to the parties that will.”

“The DUP are true leaders when it comes to progressive advocacy on issues of animal protection,” says ARAN’s John Carmody. “We applaud and salute the efforts of the party to rid Northern Ireland of an outdated and worn out business model that has used the spirit of intelligent animals as quick money spinners for far too long, and well past their sell by date. The future is a circus industry that’s with-the-times and that is free of animals.”

ADI and ARAN have been campaigning to end the suffering of animals in circuses across Northern Ireland for the past 10 years. In that time, a growing number of local authorities have prohibited circuses with wild animals from using public land. In Northern Ireland, many of the bans in place will be affected by upcoming local government reorganisation; ADI and ARAN are working with councils to ensure that their decision to ban such acts remains in place.

Although there are currently no circuses with wild animals based in Northern Ireland, those in the Republic cross the border to tour. One circus – Duffy’s – had a big cat act in its show for years. When the presenter returned to Britain, a sea lion act was introduced which attracted criticism for the use of this deep-diving aquatic species. Ireland now has just one big cat act at Courtney Bros, which was brought in from a circus in Britain where ADI had filmed the tigers being beaten.

Worldwide, 30 countries have nationwide prohibitions on animal circuses. Similar laws are under discussion in several more, including Britain. The Government at Westminster has produced a draft bill which would cover England and a Private Member’s Bill is currently before the House of Commons. The Welsh Assembly Government is working to have that bill extended to Wales and the Scottish Government is considering responses to a consultation on introducing a ban, which closed last year.

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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

Report: Stop Circus Suffering: Animal circuses in Ireland

Video: Stop Circus Suffering, Ireland

ADI and ARAN have been working to ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ in Ireland since the launch of their joint campaign in 2005, backed by the findings of an ADI investigation into seven circuses on tour in Ireland which revealed animals suffering the effects of severe confinement, inadequate diets and physical abuse. ADI and ARAN engage with government officials, politicians and local authorities to raise awareness and secure progressive measures to end the suffering of circus animals.

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