Stop Circus Suffering

DEFRA backs ban on wild animals in circuses following public consultation and ADI campaign

Animal Defenders International’s Stop Circus Suffering campaign makes major breakthrough

Alexandra Cardenas presenting GBC report to Defra

Following Defra’s announcement of the overwhelming support of 94% of the UK public to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, Animal Defenders International (ADI), a major international force for animal protection, today met with Animal Welfare Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick MP at Defra, to present him with evidence of the suffering of wild animals in circuses.

The Minister stated that, “We concluded some time ago that we are minded to ban wild animals from travelling circuses on the back of the consultation (that we had) given weight of public opinion.

With the evidence we have, we feel it is inappropriate for wild animals to be performing tricks in travelling circuses… we’re very clearly saying as a Labour government that we will legislate against wild animals performing in travelling circuses…ADI have been lobbying for this some considerable time. I hope it is welcome news, we certainly think it is.”

ADI has campaigned tirelessly for a total ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses since mounting its first circus investigation in 1992 and launch of the Stop Circus Suffering campaign. Eighteen years on and ADI has secured a major milestone in its campaign objective of securing a global ban by gaining the overwhelming support of the UK public and also the commitment of Defra Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, to act accordingly.

Members of the British public, as well as other interested organisations, were invited to participate in a Defra Public Consultation exercise relating to the use of wild animals in circuses that ran for 12 weeks from 21st December 2009 – 15th March 2010.

Of the 10576 responses recorded:

  • 5% believed a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses was the best option to achieve consistently better welfare standards for these animals.
  • 5% believed that there are no species of wild animal, for which it is acceptable to use in travelling circuses.
  • 96% believed travelling circuses should be prevented from obtaining any further wild animals.

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, comments “ADI welcomes Minister Fitzpatrick’s public commitment and we hope that a ban is put in place without further delay. I am delighted that the British public has responded so positively towards a ban.

Our media campaign clearly demonstrated to the public and the government how all animals in travelling circuses are compromised by the mobile and temporary nature of the circus, with severe confinement inevitable and physical abuse commonplace.”

ADI’s ‘Stop Circus Suffering’ Campaign

  • In 1998, ADI launched the most comprehensive ever expose of the use of animals in circuses and secured the first cruelty convictions of Mary Chipperfield, her husband Roger Cawley and their elephant trainer. Since then, ADI has sent field officers into circuses in the UK, Europe, South America and the USA.
  • In 2009 Because of government inaction, the Great British Circus imported three elephants from Germany. An ADI investigation released undercover video footage detailing suffering and beatings of elephants. The video received widespread media coverage, and the government announced this public consultation.

ADI campaigned vigorously during the consultation, encouraging the public to participate.

  • An initial summary of responses to the consultation is online here

A further 2,300 postcards from ADI supporters have been received by Defra but these have not been included at the current date.

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