Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Government ‘failing the British public’ as it allows circus ban to falter

Posted: 27 February 2015

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has said the Prime Minister is failing the public, after a popular bill to bring in the wild animal circus ban promised by Government was blocked yet again by a Conservative MP, and for the eleventh time. The latest setback comes 48 hours after an ADI delegation delivered a 20,000-strong petition calling on David Cameron to act on the issue.

At Downing Street, ADI was once again joined by conservationist, author and former MEP Stanley Johnson, social justice campaigner Peter Tatchell and a host of cross-party MPs, to whom the Prime Minister had given a personal promise last April that wild animals in circuses would be banned. Despite stating “We are going to do it” and committing to end what he personally calls an “outdated practice”, little progress has been made to pass the wild animal circus ban, prompting the bill from Jim Fitzpatrick MP. The backbench bill seeks to bring the Government’s own draft legislation forward but has been repeatedly blocked by three Conservative MPs, with Christopher Chope MP responsible for eight obstructions.

Opposition to the use of wild animals in circuses is overwhelming with support for the ban uniting Parliament and the public alike. Legislation has now been pledged by Government for three years, with the promised ban due to come into force at the end of this year. ADI is urging David Cameron to fulfil his promises and progress the law.

ADI President Jan Creamer said, “It defies both logic and belief that this simple and popular measure has yet to pass. ADI calls upon the Prime Minister to keep his promise and ensure that a ban on wild animals in circuses is passed before the election. Through inaction, the Government is allowing this saga to continue, making a mockery of the political system and failing the British public, many of whom believe this archaic practice was banned years ago, when the commitment was first announced to much media fanfare.”

The issue of animal circuses has become an embarrassing Parliamentary saga. In 2009, ADI exposed the abuse of elephants with the Great British Circus. 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 has been left to gather dust.

The Government claims to remain committed to a ban, with statements most recently made by Defra Minister Lord DeMauley and House of Commons Leader William Hague.

Only two circuses continue to tour with wild animals, with fewer than 20 animals. ADI revealed last week that Thomas Chipperfield – a relative of the notorious Mary Chipperfield who was prosecuted for animal cruelty following an ADI investigation – who presents the only lion and tiger circus act in Britain will not be touring with a circus this year. The act featured in Peter Jolly’s Circus last year, attracting widespread criticism and local protests.

Both Labour and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party have committed to banning the use of wild animals in circuses and ADI is urging all political parties to make election commitments to a ban.

Worldwide, 30 countries have national prohibitions on animal circuses and similar laws are now 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. In Northern Ireland, the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill recently stated that she is “very open to the possibility of banning the use of animals in circuses”. Over 200 local authorities in the UK already have bans on the use of animals in circuses in place.

ADI’s campaign to stop circus suffering in Britain is supported by politicians of all parties, leading animal protection groups and celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Dame Judi Dench, Twiggy, Eddie Izzard, Sir Roger Moore and Brian Blessed – who last week urged the government to “end this circus madness” stating “Despite repeated promises from the Government, we are still waiting for the law to pass and the animals are continuing to suffer.”

ADI is working with authorities to implement wild animal circus bans in Peru and Colombia and is currently caring for 30 lions and over 20 other animals rescued from circuses and the illegal pet trade. The organisation is seeking donations to complete its groundbreaking rescue mission Operation Spirit of Freedom

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Contact: Fleur Dawes 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

Petition text:

Dear Prime Minister

I am extremely disappointed that a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in Britain has yet to be passed, more than two years after the Government announced that it would prohibit such acts, three years after backbench MPs voted for such a ban, and repeated assurances that a ban would be passed, including from yourself personally.

In this time, Colombia, Belgium, Paraguay, El Salvador and Panama have all introduced nationwide bans. Meanwhile, in Britain, the number of wild circus animals has increased and big cats have returned to the big top.

Even with the best will in the world, it is simply not possible to fulfil the physical and psychological needs of wild animals in a travelling circus. In addition, wherever Animal Defenders International has conducted undercover investigations, they have documented brutal training methods and casual violence – such as the terrible beatings inflicted on Anne the elephant by a member of staff, evidence of which led to the conviction of her owner under the Animal Welfare Act.

There is no place for wild animals in circuses today and I urge you to fulfil the will of the public, and parliament, and support the Ten Minute Rule Bill introduced by Jim Fitzpatrick MP so that the promised ban can be delivered ahead of the 2015 General Election.

On behalf of the animals that, without legislative action, continue to suffer, thank you.

Donate to ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom
rescuing animals from Peru’s circuses:
Further information about Operation Spirit of Freedom rescue 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 #notgivingup

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.

© Animal Defenders International 2019