Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Tory MP blows last opportunity to bring in wild animal circus ban before the election

Posted: 6 March 2015

Popular bill blocked for TWELFTH time amid new evidence of circus failings

A backbench bill to end the use of wild animals in circuses has been blocked for the twelfth and final time today, crushing hopes that the ban would be brought in before the election. Championed by Animal Defenders International (ADI), the bill enjoyed cross-party support but has been dogged by Conservative MPs. The final blow comes amid the release of new inspection reports to ADI revealing further evidence of the repeated failings of temporary regulations brought in by Government until legislation was introduced.

ADI President Jan Creamer said, “It is hugely disappointing that efforts to bypass the inaction of Government to end the use of wild animals in circuses have been quashed, ignoring the huge public opposition to these acts. It is now down to the political parties to make election commitments to bring in a ban without delay so that the animals will not be forced to perform for yet another year. The repeated failings of the circus inspections drive home the very urgent need for action.”

Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse and former Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick who introduced the bill said, “While I am disappointed the Bill hasn’t made progress it is clear that we have won the argument against using wild animals in circuses and I hope and expect the next Government will finish the job.”

Ahead of legislation to end the use of wild animals in circuses by December 2015, an interim licensing system was introduced two years ago. However, the inspection system has proved unfit for purpose; its own reports highlight the difficulty of enforcing welfare and public safety provisions. The secret licence applications and inspection reports are not publicly available and have only been released under Freedom of Information Act requests by ADI. The most recent reports reveal that one of the two remaining circuses with wild animals failed to prevent public access to animals despite being instructed to ensure public safety on three previous occasions, in breach of licensing requirements.

Every inspection report since the regulations were introduced have highlighted animal welfare concerns and, together with ADI’s video evidence, clearly demonstrate that it is not possible to safeguard the welfare of wild animals in circuses. The reports also show how public safety is being put at risk.

Opposition to the use of wild animals in circuses is overwhelming with support for the ban uniting Parliament and the public alike. Just last week, an ADI delegation of cross-party MPs, conservationist Stanley Johnson and social justice campaigner Peter Tatchell delivered a 20,000-strong petition calling on David Cameron to act on the issue, almost a year after the Prime Minister gave a personal promise that wild animals in circuses will be banned.

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.

Worldwide, 30 countries have national prohibitions on animal circuses and similar laws are now under discussion in several more, including the US where one of America’s biggest circuses, Ringling Bros. and Barnham and Bailey Circus, announced yesterday it will stop using elephants in its shows stating “There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers.”

In the UK, Wales is committed to a ban and is seeking to be included in England’s legislation while 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.

ADI is working with authorities to implement wild animal circus bans in Peru and Colombia and is currently caring for 30 lions and over 25 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

Interviews available on request

Latest inspection reports

Stanley Johnson call to end wild animal circuses in The Sun 24th Februrary 2015

Abuse documented by ADI in British circuses: ADI undercover footage of elephants abused at the Great British Circus

ADI exposé of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus

Government ban commitment, March 2012

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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