Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Wild animal circus ban progresses to House of Lords

Posted: 5 June 2019

Having passed committee stage and its Third Reading in the House of Commons, the Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill now heads to the House of Lords as it continues its swift passage through the UK Parliament. The legislation will end the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England, as promised by successive governments for more than a decade and over 20 years of investigations and campaigns by Animal Defenders International (ADI).

During the Third Reading, proposed amendments included a suggestion to push back the implementation date of the ban, from January 2020 to 2022, to allow circuses time to prepare. Minister David Rutley responded that they had already had 6 and a half years to do so, and since temporary licensing regulations were introduced ahead of a ban. Another tabled amendment was to prevent circuses from bringing in new animal acts before the ban. The Minister admitted there was a small possibility this could happen and would consider how to prevent this.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International said: “Like the public, we cannot wait to see the day when wild animals are finally banned from travelling circuses, not just in England but across the UK. Having documented the suffering of these animals over the years, it cannot come soon enough – and for some it is sadly too late – and we urge members of the House of Lords to support this long-promised legislation.”

The Public Bill Committee had considered written and oral evidence in support of the bill from ADI and other animal protection groups and in opposition owners of the two remaining circuses with wild animals, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus, big cat circus trainer Martin Lacey Jr, British-born and working at a circus in Germany, and retired animal trainer Rona Brown.

UK opinion polls and consultations consistently show overwhelming public opposition to the use of wild animals in circuses. A ban is also supported by animal experts, with a report commissioned by the Welsh Government finding that “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’”. Legislation is already in place in Scotland, with a bill to be introduced in Wales before the summer recess.

  • A ban was first promised during the passage of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
  • Shocking elephant abuse was exposed by ADI at the Great British Circus, owned by Martin Lacey Jr’s father, in 2009, after which Defra launched a public consultation.
  • Published in 2010, 94.5% of respondents supported a wild animal ban, leading to a commitment from the then Labour Government to act.
  • In 2011, ADI exposed the terrible abuse of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus, leading to backbench MPs demanding a ban and a cruelty conviction for the circus owner.
  • With the Coalition Government announcing a ban in 2012, legislation was drafted the following year but simply gathered dust. Since then, more than half of the forty five bans in place nationwide have been passed.
  • In 2016, ADI revealed the miserable lives of Thomas Chipperfield’s big cats and at Peter Jolly’s Circus when the animals are not on the road.
  • Repeated efforts by backbench MPs to bring in a ban through Private Member’s Bills, supported by ADI, have been thwarted by just a few MPs.

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.

ADI has offered to assist with relocation of animals affected by the legislation and is currently helping enforce a ban on animal circus acts in Guatemala, where it is caring for 21 lions and tigers at its temporary rescue centre. Most of the rescued animals will be relocated to the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa, home to 27 lions rescued by ADI from circuses in Peru and Colombia following bans on animal circus acts there.

Media contact: Devon Prosser 020 7630 3344 or 07785 552548

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