Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

“The race is on” to stop circus suffering as Scotland overwhelmingly backs a ban

Posted: 26 June 2015

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has declared that “the race is on” for legislators in the UK to act after a consultation on the use of wild animals in circuses revealed there is huge distaste for such acts among the public. The response published today by the Scottish Government shows that 98% think wild animal performances should be banned.

ADI President Jan Creamer said, “The people of Scotland have spoken and the race is on to secure legislation to protect wild animals from circus suffering. We urge Governments in Scotland, Wales and England to act swiftly to meet the will of the British public and safeguard animal welfare.”

The consultation “Should the use of wild animals in travelling circuses be banned in Scotland?” was launched last January and its findings reflect those of a 2010 Defra consultation in which 94.5% of respondents supported a ban. In the consultation analysis the Government notes that, “The issue of wild animals in travelling circuses has been a source of longstanding unease to many people.”

Scottish nutritionist, presenter and author Gillian McKeith urged people to take part, highlighting the “terrible price” paid by animals in circuses, a form of entertainment that Scottish actress Annette Crosbie describes as “Victorian” and “endangers and degrades helpless animals.”

Years of ADI investigations in Scotland, the UK and around the world have exposed the inevitable suffering of animals made to perform and tour with the circus. Constant travel and small, temporary accommodation make it impossible for the animals to behave as they would in the wild. Training often dangerous animals to perform unnatural tricks requires dominance and close control, which commonly leads to violence.

ADI’s undercover investigations at circuses have led to several animal cruelty convictions in the UK including the owner of Bobby Roberts Super Circus who was sentenced after the terrible violence and constant chaining inflicted on Anne the elephant. Circuses including Bobby Roberts Super Circus have previously toured in Scotland, but there are currently no wild animal circuses in the country.

Lions and tigers from a circus in England arrived in Aberdeenshire before Christmas and caused considerable concern. The big cats are the first wild animals from a circus to be seen in Scotland for years, and spent the cold winter months on the north east coast after touring with one of the last two circuses licensed to perform in England with wild animal acts. ADI captured footage of the animals displaying abnormal, repetitive behaviour which indicates compromised welfare and suffering. Vets denounced the “unsuitable” circus conditions the big cats are kept in by owner and trainer Thomas Chipperfield.

Elaine Murray MSP has made her views clear on the issue, saying “I really believe that the practice of keeping wild animals in circuses is inhumane and unsuitable in a modern age and I hope that the Scottish Government will take a lead within the UK in banning outright the use of wild animals in circuses. Scotland has the opportunity on this matter to lead the rest of the UK while representing the majority of public opinion. Subjecting animals to unsuitable and unnatural conditions and behaviour is not entertainment.”

The British Government has remained committed to banning the use of wild animals in circuses since it announced it would prohibit such acts in 2012, and the Conservative party pledged to do so in its manifesto. Wales is committed to a ban and is seeking to be included in England’s legislation, which has already been drafted.

Over 200 local authorities in the UK already have bans on the use of animals in circuses. Worldwide, 31 countries have national prohibitions on animal circuses and similar laws are under discussion in several more.

Contact: Fleur Dawes +44 (0)20 7630 3344 or +44 (0)7785 552548

© Animal Defenders International 2020