Earlier this week Animal Defenders International (ADI), the leading animal welfare organisation that works globally for the protection of animals, pressed ahead with its ‘UK ban of wild animals in circuses’ campaign with a presentation to The Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) at Parliament.
The presentation included footage from their undercover, behind the scenes expose last year of the Great British Circus (GBC), which depicted routine violence and confinement of circus elephants during the circuses 2009 tour.
Alexandra Cardenas, ADI’s Animals in Entertainment Campaigner said that ADI was encouraged by the comments and opinions expressed at the meeting by politicians and animal welfare organisations.
“Banning animal circuses in the UK remains our top priority and our compelling evidence recorded as part of the GBC investigation and presented to APGAW this week will help us to achieve our aim,” Alex said.
“We presented this evidence to politicians including Neil Parish, Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, Andrew Rosindell, Theresa Villiers and Roger Williams, which clearly depicts circus elephants chained up in small pens for hours every day, being beaten with metal hooks, brooms and pitchforks in the name of entertainment and being shut up and transported for long periods of time.
“We felt well supported by the MP’s and audience, and are encouraged and hopeful that Government will do the right thing, listen to the will of the public and politicians and implement a UK ban.
“Our investigation shows how animals like elephants suffer in the travelling circus and how the use of animals in circuses cannot be justified,” Alex said.
MP’s comments, questions and observations at the meeting included what would happen to the animals if government implemented a ban, the cruelty associated with circuses and the training of the animals, and self regulation being an unworkable option.
ADI’s exposé of the horrific abuse of elephants at the Great British Circus put wild animals in circuses back on the political agenda. Late last year they presented the damning evidence of their investigation to Government, which helped prompt a three month public consultation of animal circuses, the results of which were condemning for UK circuses.
In March 2010, a staggering 94.5% of respondents to this consultation backed a ban on wild animal circus acts in travelling circuses.
The Coalition Government have promised an announcement this autumn on a ban on wild animal acts and 133 MPs have now signed EDM 403 ‘Wild Animals in circuses’ since July 2010, tabled by the former Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP, calling for the wild animal ban to finally be implemented.
“It’s now approaching five years since the previous Government promised to ban wild animals in circuses,” Alex said.
“Finally, after years of vigorous campaigning by ADI, other organisations and members of the public, it looks like we may at last be moving closer, so we took the opportunity at APGAW to remind politicians that they now really need to act and make the use of wild animals in circuses a thing of the past.”
Watch the distressing footage of the Great British Circus investigation.
APGAW is an all party group consisting of members of both houses and was formed to promote and further the cause of animal welfare at Westminster and in Europe.