Private Members Bill blocked as promised legislation to ban wild animals in circuses stalls
The second reading of the private members bill Wild Animals in Circuses (Prohibition) Bill 2015-16, tabled by Conservative MP Will Quince was today blocked. There will be another attempt at a second reading on Friday 11th March. The Bill, based on legislation the Government itself promised, would have prohibited circus operators from using wild animals in their acts, with those found guilty liable to pay a fine.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) which leads the campaign around the world to eliminate the use of animals in circuses, and who have been responsible for a series of shocking undercover exposés of British circuses, has expressed frustration at the lack of Government action
ADI President Jan Creamer said: “In the past ten years three successive Governments have promised a ban on wild animals in circuses. In that time we have seen horrific abuse caught on film by ADI in more than one British circus. Public opinion polls have showed overwhelming support for a ban for more than two decades. This issue has clear cross party support, with 94% of current MPs having stood on manifesto commitments to pass such a ban. It is time to act.”
Although the Government claims that it remains committed to its 2012 promise to end what the Prime Minister has called an “outdated practice”, little progress has been made. Announcing the forthcoming ban, the Government said the legislation would “help ensure that our international reputation as a leading protector of animals continues into a new global era.” Britain now lags behind more than 30 countries around the world that have already restricted the use of wild animals in circuses.
Will Quince MP for Colchester who tabled the Bill says: “The use of wild animals in travelling circuses can no longer be justified. Circuses can never recreate the natural habitat of a wild species. What’s more, there is no longer any educational, conservational nor research benefit from using wild animals solely for spectacle. The majority of the public supports a ban, as do most MPs. I hope we follow the lead of many of our European neighbours and ban the use of wild animals in circuses once and for all.”
Whilst the number of wild animals in British circuses has dropped over the past decade, ADI warns that the suffering will creep back without prohibitive legislation. A lion and tiger act presented by Thomas Chipperfield has set up in Britain having previously been based in Ireland. An elephant act banned in the Netherlands has recently started to tour Ireland and ADI fear it could set its sights on the UK when it finishes there. Previously, in 2009, ADI caught on film the horrific abuse behind the scenes of elephants from Germany when they were touring England. Two years later ADI exposed how an elderly elephant called Anne was chained and beaten in a barn in Northamptonshire.
Jan Creamer: “With the best will in the world, in circumstances of constant travelling and temporary accommodation, welfare will always be compromised. That is with the best will in the world – our reports and videos reveal a world of confinement and deprivation punctuated by violence. That’s why over 30 countries have banned this suffering and it is time Britain did the same.”
Only two circuses now perform in England with wild animals, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus, who are licensed under a temporary scheme introduced by the government ahead of the ban. ADI evidence has shown that inspections have not safeguarded welfare or protected animals from abuse.
Once a UK measure is passed, ADI has offered to assist with the relocation of circus animals, should the need arise. The organisation is currently working with authorities in Peru and Colombia to enforce similar legislation and has rescued and relocated over 100 animals during its 18-month Operation Spirit of Freedom mission. As part of this mission, 33 lions will soon be airlifted to the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. Following Bolivia’s ban on all animals in travelling shows, ADI undertook a similar mission, now documented in the multi award-winning film Lion Ark.
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 and Annette Crosbie. Expressing his exasperation at the lack of progress, actor Brian Blessed said last year “I am deeply opposed to the use of wild animals in circuses and have been working with Animal Defenders International to oppose such acts for many years. Despite repeated promises from the Government, we are still waiting for the law to pass and the animals are continuing to suffer. Please end this circus madness.”
- Urge your MP to support The Wild Animals in Circuses (Prohibition) Bill which will have another attempt at its Second Reading on Friday 11 March 2016.
- Help get the 33 lions rescued from circuses in South America back to Africa