Circuses welcome wild animal bill postponement
Elephant at Great British Circus, Photo: Jeff Link.
By: Matthew Hemley
June 12, 2014
Circuses have welcomed a decision not to implement a ban on using wild animals in their shows, claiming the move would have cost them their livelihoods.
A ban on wild animals in travelling circuses bill had widely been expected to feature in last week’s Queen’s Speech, which sets out the government’s legislative programme for the next year.
However, no such bill was listed – a move which has been welcomed by the circus community.
Just two companies use wild animals in performances in the UK – Peter Jolly’s Circus and Circus Mondao, both of which are members of the Classical Circus Association, which claims to safeguard high animal welfare standards.
Responding to the absence of a bill banning wild animals, both praised the government for recognising that the animals in the circuses “are all in tip-top condition and that accusations about them being stuck in cages all day, spending hours travelling and having the most miserable of lives are untrue”.
Via a statement from the CCA, the circuses said: “Government also agreed with the recent reports commissioned by them that there was no evidence of abuse or bad animal welfare at all in travelling circuses.”
The CCA said both Peter Jolly’s and Circus Mondao had met the conditions of licences required to use animals in circuses but said they had been “constantly threatened and attacked by so-called animal right activists”.
“CCA members have had death threats to their children and there has been a campaign of vandalism against their property,” it said, adding the “bullying and intimidation is based on lies and incorrect assumptions”.
“Hats off to Peter Jolly’s Circus and Circus Mondao – the directors of these circuses and their families have stood up to the possible consequences of a wild animal ban whereby they would lose their livelihood and working with their beloved animals,” it said.
News that no legislation is due to be implemented imminently was also welcomed by Zippo’s Circus, which said licensing required for using wild animals in circuses were “effective and have answered any genuine concerns among the general public”.
In March 2012 the government announced its intention to introduce legislation prohibiting wild animal use. But although the Draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill was published last April, little progress has been made to bring it into law.
The RSPCA said the bill’s omission from the Queen’s Speech was “outdated” but said it would continue to push for a ban to be introduced, claiming keeping animals in circuses “is a practice that needs to be abolished”.
Earlier this month, actors Roger Moore and Imelda Staunton wrote to the Queen urging her to include the ban in her speech.