After the highly publicized beating of Anne the elephant from Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus last month, a ban on using wild animals in British circuses looked very promising.
But now the government has done a complete turnaround and intends to block their support for a ban.
Despite repeated polls that show between 80 and 94 percent of the British public wanting to end the use of wild animals in the three traveling circuses in the UK and despite promises of support from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), ministers are expected to announce their preference for “self-regulation by circuses.”
The Independent said the move comes from the Prime Minister who “wishes to reduce Government regulation.”
The Independent launched its own campaign calling for the Prime Minister to rethink the ban and announce a timetable to implement one. More than 6,000 people signed their petition.
Amid widespread public disapproval, the number of circuses using wild animals has fallen steadily from 20 in 1997 to three today. They use more than 20 animals. The Great British Circus is touring with at least five tigers and two camels, and is breeding lions for future performances. Peter Jolly’s Circus has four pythons, a zebra, a camel and one horned African cattle called an ankole, while Circus Mondao has two zebras and two camels. All three circuses say their animals are well looked after, travel only short distances and are not harmed by their trainers.
A ban has the support of animal welfare organizations such as Animal Defenders International, Born Free, Captive Animals’ Protection Society, RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association, which represents 12,000 veterinarians.
The RSPCA reported the animals live in one quarter of the minimum space that is required in a zoo and their circus training, transportation and performance causes “damage to their mental wellbeing.”
Liz Tyson, director of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, said:
From an ethical standpoint, there is no justification for people to teach animals tricks or to force them to perform for our entertainment. We regularly get people saying to us: “I can’t believe this is still legal.” People make the assumption that we have got the highest standards for animal welfare in the world but the reality is that we are falling behind — Bolivia introduced a ban on the use of all animals in circuses in 2009.
The circuses countered by saying the animals are well cared for and they travel no more than 20 miles with the animals confined. They report that it’s in their best “business” interest to look after them.
Related Story: Anne, Beaten Circus Elephant Will Go To Sanctuary
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