Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Country fair urged to axe 'Victorian' lion act

Posted: 3 July 2015

A controversial lion show planned for this year’s Herefordshire Country Fair has met with opposition from Animal Defenders International (ADI). The animal protection organisation is urging event organisers to cancel what it calls a ‘Victorian’ form of entertainment overwhelmingly opposed by the British public, and has launched a Care2 petition against the circus-style performance. The Fair will take place in Caradoc on Sunday 2 August.

ADI President Jan Creamer said “Consigning these incredible animals to a life of confinement and performance in this day and age is tragic to see. These Victorian attractions serve no educational or conservation purpose and cause animals to suffer. Please join ADI in calling on Herefordshire County Fair not to feature this show or other archaic animal acts – sign our petition today.”

Four year old lions Assegai and Tsavo are set to appear in a total of four performances at the Fair and will be on display all day. The lions live in cages alongside tigers Nadia, Altai and Syas on the back of a truck known as a ‘beastwagon’. Their owner is circus trainer Thomas Chipperfield, a relative of the notorious Mary Chipperfield who was convicted for multiple counts of animal cruelty in the late 1990s following an investigation by ADI.

Chipperfield and his family toured with Duffy’s Circus in Ireland for many years before returning to Britain in 2013, where he presented a big cat act at Peter Jolly’s Circus – one of two circuses still performing with wild animals. After causing outrage across the UK with the return of big cats to a British circus, Chipperfield took the cats to spend the cold winter months on the Scottish coast. He is now attempting a series of solo animal shows, the first of which was denied a licence by local authorities in Scotland. ‘An evening with lions and tigers’ is taking place in Powys, Wales from today, and has already attracted negative publicity and an outcry from animal groups and members of the public.

The lives that the Chipperfield big cats endure are in stark contrast to those they would have in the wild. Given their solitary nature, in their natural environment tigers have limited contact with their own kind, roaming and defending a territory which can be as large as 470 km2. In their confined travelling circus living quarters, the Chipperfield tigers live in close proximity to one another and alongside lions, who they would not encounter in the wild.

Voicing his concern at the environment the animals are forced to endure, wildlife vet Simon Adams said that the ability to be able to patrol their huge natural territories was “an essential behavioural drive” and that “the limited space available in a travelling circus is unsuitable to big cats”.

ADI has documented the Chipperfield cats exhibiting abnormal, repetitive behaviour not witnessed in the wild but commonly seen in performing animals. Their unnatural behaviour has been described by vet Marc Abraham as “a sure sign their welfare is severely compromised”.

The British public is overwhelmingly opposed to the use of performing wild animals, and their distaste for this outdated form of entertainment is reflected by consistently high support for a wild animal circus ban. A 2013 YouGov poll found, with regard to the use of lions and tigers, 78% and 79% believed these animals should not be used in circuses.

Over 200 local councils have banned animal circuses from public land and the Government is committed to prohibiting wild animal acts nationwide, for which legislation has already been drafted, with Wales seeking to be included in the new law. Scotland will soon announce its plans following a public consultation which revealed last week that 98% of respondents support a ban.

To expedite the circus ban legislation, Jim Fitzpatrick MP has introduced an Early Day Motion, which has secured cross-party support since being tabled last week.

Contact: Fleur Dawes 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548 prdesk@ad-international.org

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