Stop Circus Suffering

No respite for circus big cats, still on show and facing bleak Scottish winter

ADI calls for measures to ban wild animal circus acts to be brought in swiftly to prevent further suffering 

New footage filmed by ADI and reported by the Daily Mirror today (and their sister paper in Scotland the Daily Record) has revealed the dismal daily lives of the last big cats performing in a British circus when the season comes to an end. There is no respite for the lions and tigers owned by Thomas Chipperfield, who have been trucked up to North East Scotland, as reported by ADI last week, on a gruelling 24 hour journey. They are set to spend the bitter winter months on show to the public in their home – the truck they travel in – sited in a muddy field and exposed to the elements.

The big cats are the first wild circus animals to be seen in Scotland for several years, and their arrival has caused Aberdeen MSP Kevin Stewart to call on Scotland to ban such acts. ADI is supporting this measure and also a Bill to ban wild animals in circuses in England which will have its crucial second reading today, November 7th.

ADI’s new footage was filmed in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, and shows one of the three tigers pacing back and forth inside the ‘beastwagon’, in which the animals live and are also transported in. This abnormal, repetitive ‘stereotypic’ behaviour is not seen in the wild, but is commonly observed in circuses, and indicates that the animals are not coping with their unnatural lives.

Whilst in the circus the big cats face the crowds for set periods at show time and during ‘zoo time’ when customers pay a small fee to see the animals after the show.  In Fraserburgh, the animals face a stream of visitors all day, with Thomas Chipperfield accepting donations from those who come to see the big cats.

Although those paying a visit to see the animals may be reassured that they are well treated, the lives they endure are a stark contrast to the lives they would have in the wild, or even in a zoo. Given their solitary nature, tigers in the wild have limited contact with other tigers, and roam and defend their territory which could be as large as 470 km2. In the circus, they are forced to live caged inside the ‘beastwagon’ in close proximity, and alongside another cat species who they would not encounter in the wild. Although an outdoor enclosure is provided, the big cats have limited access – one of many welfare issues.

ADI documented similarly abnormal behaviour whilst the animals were on tour with Peter Jolly’s Circus earlier this year  . Wildlife vet Simon Adams stated “This is a prime reason why the limited space available in a travelling circus is unsuitable to big cats, as patrolling their large territories in the wild is an essential behavioural drive, thwarted by the limited confines of circus accommodation, no matter how hard the circus may try to accommodate them.” 

The three tigers – Nadia, a 17 year old female, and Altai and Syas, both 3 year old males – and two lions – Assegai and Tsavo, 4 year old males – have been touring with the circus, one of two licensed to perform in England with wild animal acts, since they were shipped in from a circus in Ireland last year. The only big cat act in Britain, the animals are presented and trained by Thomas Chipperfield, a relative of the notorious Mary Chipperfield who was convicted for animal cruelty as a result of an ADI investigation.

A string of welfare and animal management issues at Peter Jolly’s Circus were revealed earlier this month in circus inspection reports released to ADI. These included the circus failing to provide animals with water in a pre-performance holding area and withholding water for the tigers to bathe in, denying them the ability to perform this natural behaviour, albeit in a small trough of water.

The British Government has remained committed to banning the use of wild animals in circuses since it announced it would prohibit such acts in 2012 but has cited ‘lack of parliamentary time’ for being unable to progress to date. To secure legislation, and the proposed implementation date of December 2015, former Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP has introduced a Bill championed by ADI which will have its Second Reading today, November 7th. The Bill has been blocked on three previous occasions, reportedly to allow an EU Referendum Bill to progress which has now been shelved, leaving the way clear for the circus Bill to pass.

In Scotland, the government opened a public consultation on the use of wild animals in circuses earlier this year, its response to which has been delayed until the New Year, prompting a warning from ADI President Jan Creamer that “Scotland risks being the destination for its <England’s> wild animal acts”. Less than two weeks later, the lions and tigers arrived in Aberdeenshire, prompting Mr Stewart’s motion.
Take action!

  • Sign our petition urging the Prime Minister to back the new bill (thousands have already signed via Care2)
  • If you live in Scotland, please contact your MSP urging them to back the motion introduced by Kevin Stewart to ban wild animals in circuses



  1. victoria parsons · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    Why is this cruelty still going on. Have respect for such beautiful creatures. What’s wrong with human circuses?

  2. Sophia de Klerk · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    How can you even allow this to happen?

  3. Elaine McConaghie · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    We can no longer claim ignorance in justifying this barbaric practice.

  4. Samantha Gilbert · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    In the video I saw a tiger was pacing back and fourth in a small cage. Pacing is a sign of distress. These beautiful creature need freedom to roam, mental stimulation in a natural setting and protection from the brutal beatings they are frequently forced to endure. The circus should no longer have animals in it.

  5. Isabel Helena · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    Quem quiser ver os animais, deve ir até a selva com segurança, sem colocar a sua vida e dos animais em risco.
    Quanto aos circos e zoológicos, quem gosta de ir, demonstra uma grande insensibilidade.
    Quanto a mim, tudo farei para combater essas prisões de animais.

    1. Isabel Helena · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

      Devem ir na selva, foi meu comentário.

  6. R Milbrand · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    this should have been stopped a very long time ago, Whats the problem ??

  7. karina tarpinian · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    please stop exploiting wild animals! they belong in the wild!!! thank you

  8. Edith Unikel · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    This is totally unhuman and out of legality! It should be stopped inmediately!

  9. Amanda Swandale · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    Please please please ban animals in circus it’s not right or fair, Amanda Godbless you

  10. Val Smith · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    these beautiful majestic animals should now be allowed to live in a safe refuge especially adapted for them so they can love a normal life with others of their kind. Where they can roam and roll and not be in the horrendously cold Scotland in. a metal cage …I thought this was illegal now to use animals in circuses etc so mske this company give them up now

  11. tami dipirro · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    cant believe this suffering still goes on.Let them live out there life in a sanctuary.Pure evil at its best.

  12. Bob Halley · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    This practice is cruel and outdated… Clrcues that use any animal for the purpose of so called entertainment should be shut down….

  13. Chrystine Vernon · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    This is supposed to be a nation of animal lovers, STOP THIS DISGUSTING PRACTICE NOW, these animals must be allowed to live out their life as nature intended

  14. Ali Alp · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    Wild animal circus’ belong to the past not a civilised country

  15. Ali Alp · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    Medieval and barbaric

  16. Karen Evans · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    i can’t understand why this is still going on its cruel and unnecessary I’m sure children could see these animals in wild life sanctuaries not in zoos and circus it’s morally wrong and needs to be stopped

  17. Karen Evans · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    i can’t understand why this is still going on its cruel and unnecessary I’m sure children could see these animals in wild life sanctuaries

  18. Nancy Belycia · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    ALL WILD ANIMALS SHOULD BE FREE!!!!!!!!! The pacing is what they do when they are under stress. Please don’t allow this anymore. Let them live out their lives in the Wild where they belong.

  19. Kathryn Barrett DeLongchamp · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    I call upon the Scottish people and their government to put an end to the suffering of these innocent, imprisoned, abused and exploited wild exotic cats NOW! The treatment they receive now is absolutely against every natural drive and instinct they feel. They have been kidnapped and held prisoners, their lives hijacked and their birthright to freedom stolen! Stop allowing greedy circus performers to exploit these magnificent animals!

  20. sarah · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    I just read about the Chipperfield wild cats. A desperate situation. Another familiar name is Jolly’s Circus. I wonder if any relation of farmer Jolly who was transporting veal calves 20 years ago from Coventry Airport.

  21. jo lumsden · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    These animals should not be in a situation like this, it’s imhumane and abusive. Please stop this sort of thing NOW. Thank you

  22. pamela smith · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    stop barbaric and abusive tgreatment by keeping the wild animals in such places as circuses and for entertainment to ppl… leave the wildkingdom alone in peace..

  23. Nicki S · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    Time to end this cruelty, why do animal circuses still exist? A circus is no place for a wild animal, kept in cages and then forced to perform day after day.

  24. Nymph Kellerman · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    Please get the wild animals out of all circus tents, please???? this cruelty has to end….

  25. Lyn room · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    All wild animals need to be banned from being in cIrcuses worldwide. They belong in the wild, not in a circus.

  26. Deborah · 7 November 2014 at 9:37a

    I am horrified that in this day and age this ban has not been passed in the UK and that this barbaric treatment continues.

Leave a comment on this story

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.