Case shows regulations cannot protect animals in circuses
The decision to release circus owner Bobby Roberts with a conditional discharge, despite being convicted of cruelty to Anne the elephant, has fuelled calls for the Government to bring forward a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.
The Government’s ‘temporary’ regulations, brought in ahead of the promised ban on wild animals in circuses, have already been shown to be weak and unenforceable with video evidence from Animal Defenders International (ADI). But the court’s decision on Friday has shown that even where a prosecution for cruelty is successful, it is meaningless.
Jan Creamer Chief Executive of ADI: “The Government’s new regulations have been shown to be pointless by the Court’s decision. These circuses are no place for animals like Anne and only a national prohibition on using them in travelling shows can prevent such suffering.”
“This judgement has sent the wrong message to the circuses – don’t worry if you break the law on care of circus animals, you’ll get away with it.”
Video filmed by ADI at the winter quarters had shown Anne the elephant to be chained, barely able to move, for three and a half weeks; this alone was judged by experts to cause more suffering than the beatings she received at the hands of a groom that led to the conviction of Bobby Roberts under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
The case showed how inspection after inspection had failed to identify Anne’s suffering and when the case was proved Roberts was given a conditional discharge and without even a fine or order for costs.
Expert witness Donald Broom of Cambridge University told the Court that Anne probably suffered more from the chaining and isolation than from the physical abuse she endured. Roberts was seen changing the shackles from one leg to another without releasing her and was convicted for causing her to suffer by being restrained in this way.
Yet Roberts claimed that it was normally his intention for Anne to be chained for thirteen and a half hours a day – more than four times the recommended minimum in zoo guidelines. This staggering level of immobilisation is cruel in itself.
Jan Creamer: “It is vital that the Government brings forward the plans to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, right now, otherwise more animals will continue to suffer, and that will be directly as a result of the Government’s decision to do nothing to protect them.”
- Please ask Lord de Mauley, the Defra Minister responsible, when the wild animal circus ban that was promised in March will be introduced.
- Ask your MP to push for the ban to be implemented ASAP. You can find out who your MP is and email them here.
- Support our Stop Circus Suffering campaign – make a donation