From the undercover investigators who brought down the circus industry
For the first time film clips of violence inside circuses are live on the internet on the ADI website for MPs deliberating on the Animal Welfare Bill to view the evidence that has been amassed.
Tim Phillips, ADI Campaigns Director, who worked undercover at Chipperfield’s Circus as a keeper of lions and tigers, says: “ADI field officers have worked inside the most horrific establishments for months and sometimes maintained their cover for years. Our video cameras and computers have been smashed, and field officers have been assaulted, chased, and received death threats. All that we ask is that people view the evidence we capture on film and make up their own minds.”
Tomorrow (Tuesday 24th January) the Standing Committee reviewing the Animal Welfare Bill will discuss an amendment to ban the use of animals in circuses.
The amendment being discussed was drafted by the ADI legal team and is being presented at the Standing Committee by Shona McIsaac MP.
It will be the first time MPs will have discussed such a proposal – although the heady days of the animal circus on TV every Christmas are long gone.
This is the culmination of a vigorous campaign by Animal Defenders International (ADI) to end the use of animals in circuses worldwide.
Much of the success of the campaign has been down to the shocking images ADI field officers have captured on video whilst working undercover in the circus industry.
Tim Phillips: “This work requires courage and dedication but it is vital as it has shown people what it’s like behind the scenes at circuses. We have witnessed horrific beatings and suffering as well as the most pitiful living conditions for animals.”
Often working in perilous and lonely circumstances, ADI field officers eye witness accounts have been captured on film (and are now live on the web):
- Horses and ponies being repeatedly whipped about the body and face during training;
- Elephants hooked viciously with metal hooks, and being beaten mercilessly with metal bars, brooms, shovels, even pieces of old plumbing;
- Camels beaten in the face with fibre glass rods;
- Animals punched, kicked, and screamed at – screaming can make a full-grown lioness urinate with fear;
- Lions and tigers beaten with metal bars and tent poles.
Many believe that the tide turned on the UK circus industry with the prosecution of Mary Chipperfield, her husband Roger Cawley, and Michael ‘Steve’ Gills, the elephant keeper at Mary Chipperfield Promotions in Hampshire.
ADI field officers caught Chipperfield on film repeatedly kicking and beating a screaming chimpanzee. Her husband Roger Cawley was filmed beating a sick elephant, which had sores over its body. Their elephant keeper repeatedly beat the elephants with a variety of weapons.
ADI brought summonses and secured convictions against the three individuals.
Last week the RSPCA noted that the ADI case was “a milestone….. a turning point hastening the decline in popularity of circuses….” Stating that it “exposed practices that shocked an innocent public”.
Within months of the first ADI undercover exposé of circuses, the number of animal circuses in the UK had halved.
ADI field officers have continued to expose animal abuse all over the world, working undercover and continuing to film and photograph. Their latest investigations were released in the autumn as the first dramatic reports on circuses in Ireland and Portugal.