Animal Defenders International (ADI) has welcomed the decision by DEFRA to refuse big cat circus trainer Thomas Chipperfield a licence to perform in England.
The decision was upheld by North Staffordshire Magistrates Court following an appeal by Mr Chipperfield.
As reported by the BBC, Defra “was not satisfied licensing conditions would be met based on Mr Chipperfield’s previous conduct as an operator of a travelling circus and other relevant circumstances” and refused his licence in July 2017. The North Staffordshire Magistrates Court upheld the decision in January on the basis that “along with concerns over licensing conditions not being met it felt he would also be unable maintain suitable care plans for the animals and to provide written itineraries.”
Thomas Chipperfield has been off the road for more than two years, after withdrawing his first circus licence application after a DEFRA inspection found his animals’ accommodation to be not of a sufficient size. A tour of Wales in 2015, where regulations do not apply, sparked a public outcry and political opposition.
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. ADI footage has shown the animals displaying abnormal behaviour, indicating that they are not coping with their environment.
The announcement in February that the UK Government would ban wild animal acts in England by January 2020 follows a decade of promises and more than 20 years of investigations and campaigning by ADI.
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; the latest from Conservative MP Trudy Harrison will have its second reading on Friday 27 April.
Changing attitudes and awareness of animal suffering have seen the number of wild animal circuses in Britain plummet. Only two circuses perform in England with wild animals, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus. Opinion polls consistently show that the UK public remains overwhelmingly opposed to wild animal acts, with a high proportion against all animal acts.
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.