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Wild animals photographed at Jolly's Exotics circus. Photo: Animal Defenders International.
Wild animals photographed at Jolly's Exotics circus. Photo: Animal Defenders International.
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Bill launched to ban wild animals in circuses

The Ecologist

17th July 2014

A former Defra minister will introduce a new Bill to Parliament in September to ban wild animals in circuses. It reflects Government policy since 2012 and the Prime Minister has promised 'We're going to do it'. But will he keep his word?

For the wild animals who are continuing to suffer in the last two circuses touring Britain, let's get this ban passed, once and for all.

A new backbench bill to ban wild animal acts has been launched by former Labour Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP.

The coalition Government has a long standing pledge to ban wild animals from circuses dating back to 2012 and Prime Minister David Cameron has personally condemned the "outdated practice".

However the Government failed to include the measure in the Queen's Speech.

Animal Defenders International is calling on MPs to get behind the bill and for the Government to ensure its smooth passage through Parliament.

Over 200 local authorities in Britain already have bans on the use of animals in circuses in place.

Cameron's promise

Last April Cameron received a letter on the topic from ADI and 75 celebrity and political campaigners including Eddie Izzard, Julian Clary, Moby, Michaela Strachan, Brian Blessed , conservationist and former MEP Stanley Johnson and social change campaigner Peter Tatchell.

On the day it was presented the Prime Minister confirmed to the ADI deputation, "We're going to do it".

In his formal response, Cameron wrote: "While the recent Queen's Speech did not contain the Government's proposed Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, let me reassure you that it remains our position that the use of wild animal acts in travelling circuses is an outdated practice and that we will introduce a ban as soon as Parliamentary time allows".

Now the submission of the backbench bill puts Cameron on trial, given that the legislative programme ahead is relatively sparse and allows plenty of time for the bill to progress.

Overwhelming public and Parliamentary support

Announcing that he will formally introduce the bill in September, Jim Fitzpatrick MP said:

"It's clear that the public and Parliament are overwhelmingly in favour of banning wild animals in circuses. It is unacceptable that animals continue to suffer as they travel across the country, and I hope that MPs from all parties will support this bill which will have a huge impact on the animals that are currently in circuses in Britain."

Public support for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses has been consistently high for 15 years, with a Defra public consultation showing a resounding 94% of respondents supporting a ban on wild animal acts.

Political support has also reflected the public mood, with MPs unanimously voting for a ban in a Commons debate in 2011, following the outcry sparked by ADI's shocking revelations of the brutal violence and constant chaining of Anne the elephant at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus, whose owner was found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act.

Early Day Motion 60, calling on the Government for a ban, is one of the most popular motions this session, winning cross party support and 71 signatures to date.

Just two circuses are using wild animals

The delay in bringing in a ban has seen the number of wild animal acts increase, says ADI, as big cats have returned to Peter Jolly's Circus, one of just two circuses still performing with wild animals in Britain.

Earlier this month ADI exposed how these animals are not coping with their unnatural lives: a lion and tiger were filmed pacing up and down their  'beastwagon', exhibiting abnormal behaviour not seen in the wild.

ADI President Jan Creamer said: "This new bill offers an opportunity to secure the ban that the public, politicians and, most importantly, the animals have been waiting for. We applaud Jim Fitzpatrick MP for taking a lead on this and urge the public to ensure that their MP backs this important and long-overdue bill as it progresses through Parliament.

"For the wild animals who are continuing to suffer in the last two circuses touring Britain, let's get this ban passed, once and for all."

 

 

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