Publicly funded body must now withdraw support for compromised sea lion act
ADI and our campaign partner ARAN have today welcomed the substantial reduction in funding of animal circuses by The Arts Council of Ireland for 2015, from €35,000 last year to €20,000. The Arts Council now funds only one circus and we are calling on them to withdraw their support for Duffy’s which tours with an act featuring sea lions, a species known to be at risk of poor welfare.
The Arts Council of Ireland, funded principally by the Irish Exchequer and National Lottery, has given nearly €750,000 to animal circuses over the last six years, with Duffy’s Circus receiving more than €330,000 since 2008.
ADI and ARAN have been urging The Arts Council for several years to end its funding of animal circuses, and will continue to do so until it sever its ties completely with circuses who exploit animals and compromise welfare.
Duffy’s has previously attracted criticism for its tiger act; when their trainer and presenter, a relative of the notorious Mary Chipperfield, left in 2013 owner David Duffy admitted how dangerous big cats were saying “one wrong move…can be fatal”. Since then, a sea lion act has been added to the show, sparking fresh controversy. As well as concerns for the animals’ welfare, the use of the fire brigade to fill the sea lions’ pool in August 2014 has attracted criticism.
The natural behaviours of the animals – such as being able to dive hundreds of meters to hunt, as they would in the wild – are denied them in the circus, and the Swedish Animal Welfare Agency recommends that sea lions should not be permitted in circuses, since their swimming needs cannot be provided for.
A report into the welfare of sea lions in travelling circuses prepared for the Government in The Netherlands, which recently announced it is to ban wild animals in circuses, found that sea lions face a number of great risks to their welfare in circuses. The report cites “possible welfare problems like eye problems, regurgitating and pattern swimming… a relatively small pool size and overexposure to UV light” and notes “pool dimensions in a travelling circus are likely to be smaller” than other forms of captivity, to the further detriment of sea lions kept in circuses. Another expert contributing to the report advises that “training, husbandry and housing methods can affect aggression, frustration and boredom”. ADI and ARAN will be presenting this evidence to The Arts Council.
Worldwide, 30 nations and hundreds of local authorities have prohibited animal circuses, with numerous local authority bans in Ireland and more being considered in the coming months.
Unlike Britain, which is progressing measures to ban wild animals in circuses, the Irish Government does not currently plan to prohibit animal circus acts, instead developing a Code of Practice for circus animals. Evidence has shown that such measures do not safeguard welfare or protect animals from abuse and ADI and ARAN continue to call for an all-Ireland ban on animal in circuses.
Take action for animals in Irish circuses!
Urge The Arts Council today to say no to circus suffering and withdraw its funding to Duffy’s Circus – send them a polite message via their website
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