Stop Circus Suffering

Defra will not ban animals in circuses

Defra announces that it will not ban animals in circuses

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The Government will propose a licensing regime inefficient to protect animals and costly to taxpayers instead.

ADI is outraged with the announcement that the Coalition Government will not be banning the use of wild animals in circuses due to a legal challenge involving the Austrian Government, and therefore opting for a licensing regime. This regime will not address animal welfare, and completely contradicts the will of the public.

These proposals will do nothing to protect wild animals currently languishing in circuses; inspectors will be unable to enforce any orders they give because the circuses are constantly on the move; they will not see what goes on behind the scenes and a lot of public money will be spent chasing circuses in an attempt to control them. These poor animals will still have to endure constant travel, long journeys and a substantial amount of time in collapsible and lightweight facilities.

Training and random abuse will continue to take place behind closed doors, and the industry will continue to employ unqualified workers and a variety of acts from around the world, so it will be impossible to assess their competence.

With the unlimited range of species available to circuses it is difficult to see where the expertise for enforcement would come from for the Government inspectors, who will have to be trained in all wild animal species and have constant retraining every time a new exotic animal is imported into the country.

Additionally, the Government has claimed that the Austrian Government has recently been taken to court for its “attempt” to ban wild animals in circuses and they are therefore loathe to legislate. The Austrian ban has been firmly in place for over 6 years and other European countries such as Denmark have implemented similar bans without challenge. Countries such as Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and Sweden all have similar legislation with restrictions.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said: “The government’s reason given for not banning is misleading, they have gone for the most expensive option, and their decision flies in the face of public opinion. Nearly three quarters of the British public recently voted overwhelmingly in independent polls for a ban, making it abundantly clear that they oppose regulation.

“To add insult to injury the government is now asking the taxpayer to bear the brunt of the costs and pay for the privilege of enforcement which will do little to actually protect animals from suffering. The option of a ban is both cheaper and more effective in terms of animal protection. This is a complete whitewash.

“They have hidden behind this legal case and have misjudged the public mood. These proposals really are a toothless tiger and government should hang its head in shame. People will be outraged, and animals will suffer.”

Tim Phillips, ADI’s Campaigns Director said: “Worldwide, there is currently no system of regulation which is effective in protecting circus animals and this decision is a shameful dereliction of the government’s duty, is completely at odds with public and parliamentary will, and we are astounded that the UK Government has found such a weak excuse not to ban animals in circuses.

“There have been more exposés of the brutality of the circus industry in the UK than any country in the world none of which would have been detected or prevented by regulation. This is an extremely sad day for UK animal welfare and protection.”

ADI will continue working to overturn this decision.

How you can help:

  • Write a letter and send immediately to Defra’s Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman MP, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, W1P 3JR.Tell her that you are outraged with the government’s decision not to ban animals in circuses. Emphasize that a licensing regime is costly, very difficult to enforce and that it will not ensure the welfare of wild animals in circuses. Urge her for this decision to be overturned.
  • Contact your MP immediatelyand tell them that Defra has announced that it will not ban animals in circuses and to take action urging the Minister for this decision to be overturned. Write to them at: The House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
  • Organise weekly leafleting sessions in your town or city.Please contact us and we will provide leaflets free of charge.
  • Once a month hold an information stall in the market or in the high street.Please contact us and we will provide leaflets, posters and also loan you our banners, inflatable elephant and stall equipment, such as backdrops and tables, and even assist you on the day if needs be and time permits.
  • Organise a demo during the circus season.Please contact us for further details.
  • Donate to ADI.By donating to ADI campaigns you will enable us to expose cruelty and suffering. Without your donations towards ADI’s work, animal abuse will continue unchecked. Please help us by giving whatever you can – the animals need your help. You can donate online here.
  • Contact us to find out more.Tel: 020 7630 3340 or Email:

Click here to read about ADI’s recent shocking cruelty exposé in the UK circus industry, and watch the video footage.

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