Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Actions not words needed from Government to help circus animals.

Posted: 30 April 2018

The public want, and the animals need, action from the UK Government to stop circus suffering, states Animal Defenders International (ADI) after a backbench bill to progress a ban on wild animal acts was again blocked on Friday afternoon at its Second Reading.

Five years after the Government published its draft legislation to ban wild animals in circuses by 2015, the popular measure is still to be passed. Last week, Secretary of State Michael Gove stated, in response to a parliamentary question from Liz Twist MP, that “The Government are absolutely committed to banning the use of wild animals in circuses, and we will work with all parties across the House to expedite legislation to that effect.”

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “While we welcome the UK Government’s continuing commitment to stop circus suffering through a ban on wild animal acts, we, like the public, are exasperated by its failure to act. With an end to such shows now promised by 2020, we hope to see legislation introduced soon to ensure this happens. The animals are waiting.”

After a decade of promises and more than 20 years of investigations and campaigning by ADI, the UK Government announced in February that it would ban wild animal acts in England by January 2020, when regulations introduced as an interim measure ahead of a ban expire. With similar commitments previously made – draft legislation published in 2013 outlined a 2015 ban – the announcement was cautiously welcomed by ADI.

Encouragingly, DEFRA has refused big cat circus trainer Thomas Chipperfield a licence to perform in England on the grounds that it “was not satisfied licensing conditions would be met”. The decision was upheld in court following an appeal from Chipperfield. Off the road for more than two years, Chipperfield’s previous circus licence application was withdrawn after a DEFRA inspection found his animals’ accommodation to be not of a sufficient size. 
ADI has time and again exposed the miserable lives of Chipperfield’s two lions and now one tiger. The big cats are confined to cages on the back of a truck with restricted access to an exercise area.

Changing attitudes and awareness of animal suffering have seen the number of animal circuses in Britain plummet. Only two circuses with wild animal acts remain, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus, who tour in England, as well as Wales where a ban has also been promised. Bans on wild animals in circuses have already been passed in Scotland and Ireland.

Given the constant travel and their temporary nature, circuses cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them physically or psychologically healthy. Welfare is always compromised.

Expert analysis of scientific evidence commissioned by the Welsh Government in 2016 stated “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’” and a ban on such acts is supported by both the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) and British Veterinary Association.

Trudy Harrison MP whose backbench bill is scheduled for another Second Reading on Friday 11 May says: “The British public overwhelmingly support a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses and bringing the law up to date is long overdue.”

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