Stop Circus Suffering

Self Regulation for UK circuses: are they serious?

ADI is calling for public and political support to help strike a blow for wild animals currently languishing in circuses throughout the UK.

Roger Cawley hits a camel in the face with fiberglass rod

ADI is calling for public and political support to help strike a blow for wild animals currently languishing in circuses throughout the UK.

Our call to action kicks off with the release of our new video entitled ‘Self Regulation for UK circuses: Are They Serious?’ which graphically depicts the random, sanctimonious abuse of wild animals in several UK circuses over the last fifteen years with the most recent footage from the Great British Circus in 2009.

The release of this footage effectively eliminates any attempt by UK Government to ignore the will of the public and politicians, by further considering self regulation for UK circuses as an option, and no wild animal ban.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of Animal Defenders International said: “We have recently learnt that even now, after five years, Government is still toying with the idea of self regulation for the UK circus industry, even though they have already looked at this option on numerous occasions.

“Does Lord Henley, the Defra Minister responsible, really believe that the circus industry will adhere to self regulation and suddenly stop the mistreatment and abuse of animals in their care as clearly evidenced in our video, because government asks them to?

“Self regulation cannot work in an industry where random acts of violence and cruelty are commonplace and there is no discipline, structure, and no way to enforce regulations. If the Minister believes that the industry can be trusted to self regulate, then he is delusional and very much mistaken.

“If government needs an overwhelming case to abandon consideration of self regulation and immediately enact a ban on the use of wild animals in UK circuses then this video contains all they require. All of the damning footage was obtained from UK circuses and we can conclusively prove this if challenged to do so by the circus industry.”

An Exasperating U-Turn

Any potential U-turn on a ban by government would show contempt of the promise made by the previous government five years ago to ban wild animals in circuses and the 94.5% of respondents to the Defra public consultation in March 2010 who have backed a ban on wild animal acts.

ADI remains exasperated that the results of this consultation still remain unpublished as they were due to be released into the public domain in June 2010. Despite repeated requests being made to Defra for the release of this information that will clearly condemn the use of wild animals in circuses, it remains inexplicably within Defra’s grasp, with no clear explanation as to why.

On a more positive note, 143 MPs have now signed Early Day Motion (EDM) 403, tabled by the former Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP, calling for the wild animal ban to finally be implemented, showing that there is a political will to enact the ban.

ADI is in the process of writing to all politicians, including those who haven’t yet signed the EDM urging them to do so, and is requesting that concerned members of the public appalled by the Government’s inaction and lethargy contact their MPs in their constituency offices to request they become involved to bring further pressure to bear, and to sign EDM 403 if they haven’t already done so.

Take Action:

Take Action – ask your MP to sign EDM 403

Contact your MP today:Details of your MP can be found here.

Order our postcards: telephone: 0207 630 3340, email:

ADI has also learnt that Defra is in consultation over self regulation proposals with ‘Performing Animals Welfare Standards International’ (PAWSI), an organisation with links to a circus which ADI exposed in 2009 of causing appalling abuse to elephants in their care, the footage of which features in the video.

Government are therefore listening to the very organisation which has attempted to defend the indefensible, and refused to give up the name of the worker ADI filmed beating the elephants.

Last year at the Great British Circus, ADI filmed frightened, stressed elephants being brutally hit in the face with elephant metal hooks, brooms and pitchforks and the results of the investigation were made public.

The GBC was working under the PAWSI codes at the time, and both PAWSI and the GBC refused to release the name of the worker who beat the elephants so that he could be prosecuted; he fled to Romania.

And the GBC was not an isolated case. In 1998, ADI field officers worked undercover inside three circus establishments run by different members of the Chipperfield family and this investigation led to successful convictions for cruelty to animals of Mary Chipperfield and her husband Roger, jail for their elephant keeper Michael Gills, and subsequent closure of all three circus enterprises in the UK. This footage also appears on the video.

Successive governments have now been privy to overwhelming evidence that would enable them to implement a wild animals in circuses ban, but to their shame this situation has been allowed to trundle on for far too long and it is now high time that decisive action was taken.

This issue highlights the very best of the British public who in every poll or consultation have expressed their compassion and desire to end the cruelty over the last few years, but highlights the worst of our political system with indecision that allows animals to continue to suffer.

Jan said: “While Defra continues to drag its heels, the horrifying scenes that ADI has filmed will continue as long as wild animal circuses are allowed to operate in the UK – it is as simple as that.”

National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have been adopted in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Singapore, Bolivia, Costa Rica, India and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in Brazil, Chile, Norway, Peru and Greece.

All of these countries have looked at the evidence and listened to the will of the people and done the right thing by implementing bans. It is high time that the UK Government now did the same.

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