Goodbye cruel world: No more lions, tigers, bears and elephants in circuses in England, Scotland and Wales
Today, the Welsh Parliament passed (in a 53-0 vote) a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.
Joining England and Scotland, when the Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Act comes into force on 1st December 2020, it will be illegal to have performing wild animals anywhere in mainland Britain.
Credited as being the birthplace of the modern circus, 25 years ago Britain had one of the most powerful circus industries in the world, and supplied thousands of animals to circuses worldwide. Then, at the turn of the century, it became the centre of a campaign that would change public perceptions of animal circus around the world forever.
Some of the worst circus suffering has taken place in Britain
A two-year undercover investigation by ADI using hidden cameras exposed the sordid world behind the scenes of the British and European circus industry. Animals living in deprived conditions and savage beatings. The public turned away in droves. The biggest figure in the circus industry, Mary Chipperfield, was convicted of cruelty. The majority of British circuses went animal free.
But the politicians were slow to react. The misery continued for the animals, with regular horrific exposés by ADI. Elephants at the Great British Circus were filmed being beaten with metal bars and tortured by having their tails twisted. The sustained beating and kicking of Anne the elephant as she stood helplessly chained to the ground caused a national outrage.
More recently, ADI documented appalling overcrowding, fighting between animals, and a worker tormenting a camel at the winter quarters of Peter Jolly’s Circus. Lions and tigers owned by Thomas Chipperfield – who previously toured Wales – were filmed living caged on the back of a truck.
An expert report commissioned by the Welsh Government, before the Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill was introduced, states that “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’”.
97% of respondents to a public consultation conducted by the government agreed it should be made an offence for a wild animal to be used in a travelling circus. The same number also believing a ban would have a positive impact on attitudes of children and young people towards animals.
The curtain comes down on more than a century of suffering
The Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill was introduced in July 2019. Delayed due to COVID-19, it passed its final debate and vote this afternoon. It will come into force on 1 December 2020.
Scotland banned wild animals in circuses in 2017, and in England a ban came into effect in January.
Only a handful of circus operators have used wild animals in recent years (Circus Mondao, Peter Jolly’s Circus, and Thomas Chipperfield). These animals can no longer perform in Britain.
ADI has offered, if needed, to assist with the relocation of animals affected by the legislation. We have previously worked with the governments of Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Guatemala to enforce bans, rescuing approaching 200 animals. The ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa is currently home to 42 lions and tigers saved during such missions.
How you can help animals in circuses
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