MPs urged to unite behind ban on wild animals in circuses
With politics seeming very divided, there is an issue that unites public and House of Commons: banning the use of wild animals in circuses. 98% of MPs stood on a manifesto promise to bring in such a ban and there has been overwhelming public support for such a move for 20 years.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) is urging MPs to back the Wild Animals in Circuses Prohibition bill being presented today, the Fourth of July, by Conservative MP for Torbay Kevin Foster. With no government timetable for passing legislation promised more than four years ago, the private members bill provides an opportunity to give wild circus animals in England their long-awaited freedom.
Kevin Foster MP says: “Whilst it meant queuing overnight, I am pleased to be able to bring before parliament a proposal to deliver the long promised ban on wild animals in circuses.”
“A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses is backed by the British Veterinary Association and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe. It is now time for parliament to back it as well.”
Calling for MPs to get behind the bill, Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, said: “This Government promised to outlaw this archaic practice, already banned in dozens of other countries, it is time to keep that promise. Moving from place to place for months on end, it is simply not possible to provide for the needs of wild animals in temporary accommodation in travelling circuses. Animal Defenders International has also repeatedly exposed the physical abuse of circus animals in the UK.”
Changing attitudes and awareness of animal suffering have seen the number of wild animal circuses in Britain plummet. Only two circuses are currently performing in England with wild animals, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus, but the door is open to others joining them.
Earlier this year Circus Belly Wien arrived in Ireland with elephants from The Netherlands following a ban there. Two years ago, Thomas Chipperfield brought performing lions and tigers and the notorious Chipperfield name back to Britain after an absence of some years.
In April, ADI exposed the miserable lives of the animals at Peter Jolly’s Circus when they are not on the road: appalling overcrowding, fighting between animals, a worker spitting in the face of and tormenting a camel, ponies tangled in short tethers, animals crammed in a run-down building for 14 hours a day, some animals shut in the dilapidated building for days on end, on one occasion animals tethered for up to 40 hours, government regulations ignored.
Backbench MPs unanimously demanded a ban on wild animals in circuses in 2011, and David Cameron responded with draft legislation in 2012 ending what he called an “outdated practice”. But the Bill simply gathered dust. Labour, Conservative, DUP and Greens all stood at the 2015 election with manifesto commitments to ban wild animals in circuses. The SNP has said it is prepared to ban wild animal acts in Scotland ahead of Westminster. Opinion polls commissioned by ADI have consistently supported a ban for over a decade.
The continued use of wild animals in circuses is opposed by animal welfare experts, animal protection groups, politicians and a huge majority of the public. In response to a consultation by Defra in 2010 on the issue, 94.5% of respondents supported a ban. The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) has concluded “there is by no means the possibility that their [wild mammals in travelling circuses’] physiological, mental and social requirements can adequately be met.” and the British Veterinary Association that “The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus – in terms of housing or being able to express normal behaviour.”
ADI has offered to assist with the relocation of circus animals, should the need arise once a ban is in place. The organisation has just concluded an operation to enforce similar legislation in Peru, rescuing and relocating over 100 animals, with 33 lions airlifted to a sanctuary in South Africa.
ADI’s Stop Circus Suffering campaign is supported by celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Roger Moore, Brian May, Moby, Imelda Staunton, Eddie Izzard, Twiggy, Annette Crosbie and Brian Blessed.
Take action to stop circus suffering!
- Avoid circuses that have animal acts, and encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to do the same.
- Speak out when an animal circus comes to town – email us for leaflets and posters.
- Ask your MP to urge the Government to bring in its promised ban, and call for measures to protect domestic species too.
- In Wales contact your AM, in Scotland your MSP, and Northern Ireland your MLA and urge them to call for action too.
- Donate today and help us campaign for an end to the suffering of animals in circuses.