Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Animal campaigners appalled as elephant circus banned from homeland arrives in Ireland

Posted: 26 February 2016

Animal Defenders International (ADI) and Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) have condemned the arrival of an elephant circus act in Ireland. Previously based in the Netherlands until a ban on wild animals in circuses was passed in 2014 and came into force late last year, Circus Belly Wien, in association with Circus Renz International, has kicked off their Irish tour in Mullingar, County Westmeath. ADI and ARAN warn that more banished animal acts may soon follow their lead and urges government to introduce legislation to prohibit wild animal acts.

For their debut this week the three elephants travelled with the circus some 500 miles, including a grueling 20-hour ferry journey from The Netherlands, where wild animal acts are now prohibited. The country joins over 30 with similar restrictions on animal circuses in place; these include Austria, where Circus Belly Wien also toured. The suffering of wild animals in circuses is now widely acknowledged, with animals enduring severe confinement in deprived and unnatural environments, inadequate diets and physical abuse. Their use also presents a public safety risk; workers and members of the public have been maimed and killed by circus animals. Images and video of the circus in Mullingar show families in close proximity to the elephants with no protective barriers in place.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International said: “The arrival of this circus is at odds with public opinion and a retrograde step for Ireland. The circus is no environment for a wild, intelligent animal, denied the free-ranging, natural existence they were born to have. We urge the public to avoid Circus Belly Wien and call for local and national action to stop circus suffering in Ireland.”

“The arrival of further animal circus acts from countries with prohibitive legislation in place is a real danger for Ireland, and the UK. It is imperative that the government takes action to stop animal suffering being shipped to our shores.”

John Carmody of Ireland Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN): “Thanks to progressive bans on the use of wild animals performing in circuses in Austria and the Netherlands, this circus has had to wrap up and is now playing hopscotch with other countries that currently don’t have a ban, and what better place to tour than in Ireland where it’s a free-for-all for anyone wanting to profit off the backs of animal suffering,” says ARAN’s John Carmody. “Ireland urges any incoming TD’s to support a national ban on the use of animals in Irish circuses and to ensure that circus’s currently touring Ireland with bewildered elephants, is the last”.

The suffering of wild animals in circuses was brought to Ireland’s attention by ADI and ARAN, who launched their joint Stop Circus Suffering campaign 10 years ago. Since then the number of animal circuses have fallen, the Arts Council has slashed its funding of such acts and local bans have been introduced across the country. In Northern Ireland, although Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) Minister Michelle O’Neill has not ruled out a ban, an All-Island system of regulation is being considered.

In the UK, ADI evidence of abuse led to a public backlash against circuses with animals and a commitment from the British government to ban wild animal acts, a commitment which is yet to be realised. A Private Members Bill introduced by Will Quince MP and which seeks to progress the legislation, using the government’s own wording, has its Second Reading on Friday 4 March 2016. Members of the public are being urged to ask their MP to support the measure.

The arrival of the elephants confirms the folly of the British Government’s failure to act on its promise to end the use of wild animals in circuses. Previously, Thomas Chipperfield left Ireland and has his lion and tiger act based in Britain. By their nature animal circuses are mobile, that is why animal welfare is so seriously compromised, and it means circuses can turn up anywhere.

The last circus to perform with elephants in Ireland was Courtney Brothers Circus, which made headlines across the world in 2012 after one of its five elephants escaped in Cork, running through a public car park and onto a road risking public safety. Just two days later, a trainer was crushed and hospitalised while attempting to break up a fight between two elephants. Britain’s last circus elephant was Anne, the shocking mistreatment of whom was exposed by ADI. The expose revealed Anne being beaten and severely mistreated at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus. The CPS subsequently used ADI’s evidence to secure a conviction of circus owner Bobby Roberts, under the Animal Welfare Act, 2006.

If legislation prohibiting wild animal acts in Ireland is passed, ADI and ARAN has offered to assist with the relocation of animals. ADI has conducted a number of rescue operations around the world and is currently working with authorities in Peru and Colombia to enforce wild animal circus bans there. The organisation has rescued over 100 animals from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade, with 33 lions soon be airlifted to a sanctuary in South Africa. People can help get these 33 lions back to Africa on ADI’s Spirit of Freedom airlift, at: http://www.lionsbacktoafrica.com.

Please visit http://www.stopcircussuffering.org for more information and to take action to help pass the circus ban.

Contacts:
ADI: Rebecca Taylor 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548 prdesk@ad-international.org
ARAN: John Carmody +353 (0)87-2391646 arancampaigns@eircom.net

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