Animal Defenders International (ADI), who initiated the global ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign, welcomes Winschoten’s ban of wild animal circuses, the first of its kind in the Netherlands. The city council voted for the last December and has finally found a legal way to enforce it.
ADI Chief Executive Jan Creamer says: “Throughout the world our ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ campaign has opened people’s eyes to the suffering of circus animals. We have seen almost all UK animal circuses close and the industry is in decline across Europe. We have been providing support to the coalition, ‘Wild Animals Out of the Tent’ in the Netherlands, supplying marketing materials such as our DVDs of the ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ video. We applaud Winschoten City Council’s efforts and hope other Dutch councils will follow suit.”
Spokesman for the coalition, ‘Wild Animals Out of the Tent’, Jeroen van Kernebeek, said: “This is real a break for us. We realised that councils were uncertain about the legal aspects of protecting the welfare of wild circus animals. Winschoten stuck its neck out and found out how to do it. The way forward is for other councils in the Netherlands to also enact a ban and end this abuse of wild animals.”
ADI has been campaigning to end the suffering of animals in travelling circuses for over a decade and has successfully launched campaigns in Europe in the UK, Ireland, Norway, Portugal and Greece; in the USA and in Chile, South America, with launches to follow in Peru, Columbia and Bolivia this year. As a result wild circus animal bans have been enforced in Austria, Croatia in 28 towns, UK in over 200 local authorities and Greece in the towns of Malia, Thessaloniki and Patras. Both the UK and Scottish Parliaments have also now committed to ban wild animals in travelling circuses. Most recently this summer Parramatta City Council in Sydney, Australia also banned animal circuses.
Jeroen van Kernebeek spoke of a “tremendous victory”. According to him, many councils in European countries have banned the use of wild animals in circuses. In Belgium 85 councils have instituted a ban and Austria has had a national ban on wild animals in circuses since January 2005. Also, Amsterdam is currently working on a proposal that circuses with wild animals will be made unwelcome in the city.
Wild Animals Out of the Tent is a coalition of Foundation MONKEY, Celebrate the Sophia Association, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Foundation Voeters and other animal protection groups, supported by ADI. The campaign petition, which Dutch citizens can sign to urge councils to keep out circuses with wild animals, has over 25,000 signatures to date.