Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Labour commits to wild animal circus ban as time runs out for Government to fulfil promise

Posted: 18 February 2015. Updated: 18 February 2015

Labour: “animals should not be subjected to the unacceptable conditions of circus life”

Labour has committed to ban the use of wild animals in circuses as part of a raft of pro-animal measures outlined in its ‘Pledge for Animals’ launched today. The move is welcomed by Animal Defenders International (ADI), which has repeatedly exposed abuse of animals in British circuses.

Labour’s election pledge follows a similar promise by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, and is confirmation of the growing belief that the Government will fail to keep a 2012 promise to end the use of wild animals in circuses.

The commitment reads “The Labour Party believes that animals should not be subjected to the unacceptable conditions of circus life” and highlights how regular transport, cramped and substandard enclosures, forced training and performance, loud noise and crowds are the unavoidable distressing realities for animals in circuses.

ADI President Jan Creamer said “We are delighted that Labour has made a clear commitment to end the use of wild animals in circuses. When ADI exposed the horrific abuse of Anne the elephant, people were promised legislation that would ensure it could never happen again. There is overwhelming public support for a law to end the use of animals like lions, tigers, elephants, zebras and camels in travelling circuses and people feel betrayed that the promised ban has not happened.”

The Labour ‘Pledge for Animals’ sets out what a Labour Government would do for animals, upholding the Hunting Act and ending the badger cull in addition to protect wild animals from use in circuses.

The issue of animal circuses has become an embarrassing Parliamentary saga. In 2009, ADI exposed the abuse of elephants with the Great British Circus and the ensuing outrage led to a Government public consultation in 2010, which saw almost 95% of respondents back a ban on wild animal acts. In 2011, ADI exposed how Anne, an elderly elephant with Bobby Roberts Super Circus, was kept permanently chained and physically abused, resulting in a cruelty conviction for her owner. Backbench MPs followed this with a unanimous vote for a wild animal ban and a year later the Government agreed to pass legislation. A Government Bill was drafted in 2013 but simply gathered dust. In recent months, the Government’s own legislation has been presented to Parliament as a Private Member’s Bill by Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, but has been blocked ten times by a handful of Conservative MPs – despite the Bill having support from all parties.

With time running out, ADI is still urging the Government to make Parliamentary time for its promised Bill, but is also calling on all parties to make election commitments to ban wild animal circuses.

Worldwide, 30 countries have national prohibitions on animal circuses and similar laws are under discussion in several more. Wales is committed to a ban and is seeking to be included in England’s legislation and Scotland is considering responses to a public consultation on the issue.

ADI is currently assisting authorities in Peru and Colombia to implement their animal circus bans and is seeking funds to rehome 30 ex-circus lions and other animals in its care

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Contact: Fleur Dawes 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

ADI footage and images of animal abuse in British circuses is available on request

Further information about ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom rescue in Peru and Colombia with video

National restrictions on performing animals in travelling circuses, either wild, all animals, or in a handful of cases specific species have been enacted in 30 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Malta, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Taiwan, The Netherlands. Similar laws are under discussion in the UK, USA, Brazil and Chile.

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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