Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Celebration as wild animal circus ban in Scotland comes into force

Posted: 25 May 2018. Updated: 10 January 2019

On Monday, Scotland will become the first UK nation to enact legislation banning the use of wild animals in circuses. Celebrating the popular measure, Animal Defenders International (ADI) has renewed its call to other UK nations to follow their lead and stop circus suffering in Great Britain.

The Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Act 2018 comes into force on 28 May 2018, five months after the government bill was unanimously passed by MSPs. Its introduction followed a public consultation conducted by the Scottish Government which revealed 98% of respondents backed a ban. The findings mirrored those of a similar consultation undertaken by the UK Government, and public opinion polls in Scotland and the UK over many years.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, said: “Having campaigned for many years to end the suffering of circus animals, we are thrilled that Scotland has taken action. We now look to England, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow their lead and deliver the UK-wide legislation that the public have long wanted and the animals so desperately need.”

Although there are currently no circuses with wild animals based in Scotland, these have visited in the past from England. The new legislation will prevent them from touring in future. These include Thomas Chipperfield and his lions and tigers, who overwintered in Fraserburgh in 2014 causing a public outcry.

ADI has time and again exposed the miserable lives of Chipperfield’s two lions and now one tiger. Confined to cages on the back of a truck, the big cats have restricted access to an exercise area. Off the road for more than two years, DEFRA has refused Chipperfield a licence to perform in England on the grounds that it “was not satisfied licensing conditions would be met”. His previous application was withdrawn after a DEFRA inspection found his animals’ accommodation to be not of a sufficient size.

A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in England has been promised by successive UK Governments for more than a decade. Draft legislation published in 2013 set out a 2015 ban but simply gathered dust. In February, the government indicated a ban would be in place by January 2020, which coincides with when temporary regulations governing circuses with wild animals expire.

In Wales, a statement on the issue is expected before the summer break, the Welsh Government under increasing pressure to act after a ban was overwhelmingly backed in the Assembly during a debate in March.

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.

ADI is currently assisting the authorities in Guatemala with enforcement of legislation banning animal circus acts, the new law passed in 2017 and which took effect last month. ADI has undertaken similar missions in Peru, where more than 100 animals were saved, and in Bolivia, as documented in the award-winning film ’Lion Ark’.

ADI removed the animals, three lions, from the first circus in Guatemala last week and is seeking urgent funds to save dozens more. Please donate here.

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

© Animal Defenders International 2019