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Animal welfare NGOs across Europe demand an end to cruel animal performances

21 April 2016
by Born Free -- last modified 21 April 2016

Damning report findings state that 'wild animal performances have no place in a modern European society'


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Leading European animal welfare protection groups have joined forces to launch a Europe-wide collaboration and hard-hitting report to end the use of wild animals in performance.

The coalition, made up of 16 NGOs including the Born Free Foundation, Eurogroup for Animals, the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe (FVE) and Animal Advocacy and Protection (AAP), is calling for an end to the use of animals in entertainment including television, film, circuses and other live performances.

Daniel Turner, programmes manager for captive wild animals and policy at the Born Free Foundation, said: "While recognising that there is still much to be done to bring an end to the use of wild animals in circuses across many EU countries, the general public are increasingly aware of the animal suffering that can, and does, occur in these operations. Through this collaborative approach, efforts will concentrate on achieving expedite bans in the remaining countries where this practice is still legal. Wild animal performances have no place in a modern European society."

The NGOs recently held a two-day workshop in Brussels to launch the coalition and the new report 'The use of wild animals in performance 2016', covering key issues including animal welfare, health and safety and environment.

The comprehensive report reveals that though the use of wild animals in circuses has been banned in some countries, there are thought to be no outright bans on the use of wild animals in television and film anywhere in the European Union. It calls for EU Member States to ensure the use of wild animals in performance is brought to a swift and humane end, and highlights a series of disturbing case studies, including Anne the elephant, who performed in a UK circus for 54 years.

Jan Vaarten, director of FVE, which represents more than 230,000 veterinarians across Europe and last summer called for the use of animals in circuses to be banned, said: "It's simply impossible to adequately meet the physiological, mental and social needs of the animals in travelling circuses. There are no good reasons to justify the prolongation of such practices."

Liz Tyson, spokeswoman for the Born Free Foundation's Animals in Entertainment campaign said: "The use of wild animals in performance, whether in a circus or during the production of a television programme, advertisement or feature film, inevitably impact negatively upon that animal's welfare. Animals such as elephants, monkeys and big cats are denied the ability to meet some of their most basic physical and psychological needs."

AAP spokeswoman Racquel Garcia added: "In addition to concerns about animal suffering, the use of wild animals in performance has other negative implications; such as the impact on wild populations due to the (illegal) capture of animals, risk to public health and the health of other animals and to demean the natural attributes of animals, which are often required to perform behaviours for removed from the natural behaviour of wild counterparts."

The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. We rescue animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles and many more species in their natural habitat, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. Our high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide.

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