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Support for wild animal circus ban as strong as ever, new poll reveals

04 October 2018
by eub2 -- last modified 04 October 2018

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has urged the UK, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments to step up and stop circus suffering without further delay, following publication of a new poll showing the public remains overwhelmingly opposed to the use of wild animals in circuses, supporting an end to their use not just in the UK but across Europe.


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Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, said: "Animal Defenders International has seen first-hand how circuses simply cannot meet the needs of animals in small, mobile accommodation, documenting suffering and abuse for over 20 years. The UK has been slow to legislate, falling behind countries around the world, and it's time to step up and stop circus suffering without further delay."

Commissioned by the Netherlands-based organisation AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection and carried out between 25-26 September, the YouGov poll shows that 76% of UK adults think circuses in Europe shouldn't be allowed to use wild animals in their performances, whilst 60% support an EU-wide ban. Similar polls have been conducted in other Member States - with and without national bans - as well as the UK. 65% of Europeans polled are against the use of wild animals in circuses.

The UK findings reflect previous opinion polls spanning the last two decades, which consistently show the public is overwhelmingly opposed to wild animal acts, with a high proportion against all animal acts.

A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in England has been promised by successive UK Governments for more than a decade. Draft legislation published in 2013 set out a 2015 ban but simply gathered dust. In February, the government indicated a ban would be in place by January 2020, which coincides with when temporary regulations governing circuses with wild animals expire.

The Welsh Government, who stated it would seek an extension to the draft legislation in England back in 2013, announced in July its intention to ban, this week publishing a consultation on the matter. In Scotland, legislation to ban wild animal acts was published last year and came into force in May. Its introduction followed a public consultation which revealed 98% of respondents backed a ban.

A similar public consultation undertaken by the UK Government in 2010 showed 94.5% supported a ban on wild animal acts, and came following the shocking abuse of three elephants at the Great British Circus in 2009, exposed by ADI. In 2011, backbench MPs demanded a ban following the terrible abuse of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus, exposed by ADI and which led to a cruelty conviction for circus owner Bobby Roberts. Repeated efforts by backbench MPs to bring in a ban through Private Member's Bills, supported by ADI, have been thwarted by just a few MPs.

45 countries have stepped up to stop circus suffering to date, with 29 of the bans introduced since the draft legislation for England was published six years ago.

David van Gennep, CEO of AAP said: "It is difficult to understand that the UK, and especially England, is still lagging behind on the matter of wild animals in circuses. This poll is new evidence of support for banning their use, but it should not come as news to policymakers: it is clear to everyone, on both shores of the Channel, that the British public has been demanding the end of this form of blatant animal abuse for a very long time. Brexit or no Brexit, the UK will remain part of Europe, and Europe clearly rejects a practice which should already be history."

Members of the public can sign the petition calling for an EU-wide ban here.

Changing attitudes and awareness of animal suffering have seen the number of circuses with wild animals in the UK plummet. Only two remain: Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly's Circus which are licensed in England and tour Wales. Thomas Chipperfield, who has a big cat act and previously toured with Peter Jolly's Circus and independently in Wales, has been refused a circus licence and is off the road.

Given the constant travel and their temporary nature, circuses cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them physically or psychologically healthy. Welfare is always compromised. Animals in circuses can also be subjected to brutal training methods and violence – wherever ADI has conducted an undercover investigation in the UK and around the world it has documented acts of abuse.

Animal circuses do nothing to teach people about the animals' real needs and the way they live, and have no role to play in education or conservation.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) was founded in 1990. With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI educates and campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment and other industries.

Animal Defenders International (ADI)
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