Following a campaign by Animal Lebanon, Lebanese Minister of Agriculture Dr. Hussein Hajj Hassan has declared that the Egyptian Circus Akef entered Lebanon illegally – and they have been ordered to leave the country.
ADI has been helping Animals Lebanon try to confirm if this is the same as the Akef Egyptian Circus which in 1996 was found to have illegally imported animals into Mozambique and left them to starve. ADI moved in and in the most dramatic circus animal rescue ever, seized every animal – three tigers, six lions, three horses, and African python and five dogs.
The lions went on to live long lives in our care and, as a result of an intense ADI campaign, in 2003 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) adopted new rules for travelling animal exhibitions, although implementation of these rules has been problematic.
Circus Akef now seems to have risen from the ashes, and has travelled through Jordan and Syria to Lebanon, keeping the animals in dreadful conditions.
The daughter of King Hussein of Jordan, Princess Alia, had to intervene personally to provide help for the animals, who were provided neither food nor water. The big cats had also been declawed.
The circus was on its way to the Monte Carlo Circus Festival, where the shocking abuse of animals in circuses is celebrated every year. ADI has repeatedly exposed this show and some scenes from it appear in our Stop Circus Suffering UK video
Lebanon has no laws against the use of animals in circuses: the decision to order Akef Circus to leave was made on the basis that the animals were smuggled into the country. The case of Akef highlights that circuses are a vector of the illegal trafficking of wild animals from Africa.
ADI congratulates Animal Lebanon for their investigation, the Princess Alia Foundation for helping the animals on their way through Jordan and warmly thankMinister Hussein Hajj Hassan for his swift action.