Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Thousands back petition calling for Welsh animal circus ban!

Posted: 24 January 2018. Updated: 24 January 2018

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is urging Assembly Members to support a ban on wild animals in circuses when it comes up for debate in the Senedd, as proposed by the Petitions Committee following the presentation of a petition signed by more than 6,000 people who want a ban. It follows the overwhelming findings of a recent public consultation from the Welsh Government that “there is strong support for a ban”.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, said: “The public response to the government consultation and the petition reflect the overwhelming and continued support there is for a ban on wild animals in circuses. Now we need legislation to catch up and stop the suffering, and we urge Assembly Members to call on the Welsh Government to commit to ending wild animal acts without delay.”

Launched by animal advocate Linda Joyce Jones, the petition was discussed yesterday at the meeting of the Petitions Committee in the Welsh Assembly. Following the meeting, the petition was officially presented to the Chair of the Committee David J Rowlands AM, Ms Joyce Jones accompanied by ADI Senior Researcher Kimberley Jayne and local advocates.

Linda Joyce Jones said: "I launched my petition early last year because I was concerned our Welsh Government would licence not ban this outdated practice in Cymru. We have collected 6,388 signatures from all over Wales on paper and online. I am disappointed that Welsh Labour, unlike all the other political parties in Wales, has never made it a manifesto pledge to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in Wales. The prospect of Thomas Chipperfield, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus returning to Wales, with a licence issued by our Welsh Government in their pockets, is truly abhorrent to me, particularly in light of the Harris report which they commissioned and stated that life for wild animals in circuses was “ not a life worth living".”

In October 2017, the Welsh Government conducted a public consultation on mobile animal exhibits, also asking respondents if a ban on wild animals in circuses should be considered. Responding to the consultation ADI and supporters urged the government to introduce a ban at the earliest opportunity. Although animals in mobile animal exhibits suffer a number of similar welfare issues, there are distinct welfare issues associated with the use of animals in travelling circuses, and the constant travel and confinement they are subjected to.

Of 968 responses received, 892 specifically responded to the question about the ban. In a statement on the findings, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said “It was clear from the consultation responses that there was support for banning the use of wild animals in circuses. My officials will now consider how we address this issue." A written statement is expected by Ms Griffiths before the spring half term recess.

Professor Stephen Harris at Bristol University was commissioned by the Welsh Government to undertake a report on the welfare of wild animals in travelling circuses in 2015. The report, published the following year, concluded that “The available scientific evidence indicates that captive wild animals in circuses and other travelling animal shows do not achieve their optimal welfare requirements.” It also stated that “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’” with the expert analysis supporting a ban on wild animal circuses on animal welfare grounds.

A ban has the support of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Welsh Conservatives who have stated that “The Welsh Liberal Democrats fully support the introduction of a ban as soon as possible…The Welsh public have been waiting long enough...” and that the “Welsh Conservatives are clear – we would bring forward an outright ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in Wales, as soon as possible... Public support for a ban is exceptionally high….” When the Harris report was commissioned, Rebecca Evans, then Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, also stated that “The Welsh Government believes there is no place for the use of wild animals in circuses”.

Given the constant travel and their temporary nature, circuses cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them physically or psychologically healthy. Welfare is inevitably compromised. Animals in circuses can also be subjected to brutal training methods and violence – wherever ADI has conducted an undercover investigation in the UK and around the world it has documented acts of abuse. Animal circuses do nothing to teach people about the animals’ real needs and the way they live, and have no role to play in education or conservation.

Despite there currently being no wild animal circuses in Wales, circuses with such acts do visit from England and three have visited Wales in recent years, Circus Mondao, Peter Jolly’s Circus and an Evening with Lions and Tigers. With no bar to wild animal circuses in place, the door is open to others joining them.

‘An Evening with Lions and Tigers’ toured Wales in 2015 and featured two lions and three tigers forced to perform tricks under the guise of education. The show was prevented from performing in England over welfare failings, and sparked a public outcry, meeting with political opposition, protests and petitions. With circus owner Thomas Chipperfield recently announcing plans to tour, this unwanted big cat act could return to Wales this year.

A 2016 investigation by ADI recorded at the Chipperfield big cats’ accommodation in Staffordshire, where they have spent the past two years, documented the animals confined for the majority of the time to their cages on the back of a truck, with restricted daily access to an outdoor exercise area. On one of the days observed, the lions were not let out at all.

ADI also exposed last year the miserable lives of the animals at Peter Jolly’s Circus when they are not on the road, documenting appalling overcrowding, fighting between animals, a worker spitting in the face of and tormenting a camel, ponies tangled in short tethers, animals crammed in a run-down building for 14 hours a day, some animals shut in the dilapidated building for days on end, on one occasion animals tethered for up to 40 hours, UK government regulations ignored.

The continued use of wild animals in circuses is opposed by animal welfare experts, animal protection groups, politicians and a huge majority of the public.

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) has concluded “there is by no means the possibility that their [wild mammals in traveling circuses’] physiological, mental and social requirements can adequately be met.” and the British Veterinary Association that “The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus - in terms of housing or being able to express normal behaviour.”

More than 40 countries around the world have introduced prohibitions on animals in circuses to date and opinion polls consistently show that the public remains overwhelmingly opposed to wild animal acts, with a high proportion against all animal acts.

In Scotland, a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses was passed in December, while in Ireland regulations banning such acts were signed in November, effective this month. In England, the government is reported to be finally progressing a ban; since draft legislation was published in April 2013, 27 countries have taken action to stop circus suffering.

Media Contact: Devon Prosser | 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548 |

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