National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

Legal Report says Government can ban wild animals in circuses

Posted: 31 July 2008

Cross-party MPs increase the pressure to end use of lions, tigers, elephants and bears in UK circuses as Defra report is found to be flawed.

London - Animal Defenders International (ADI) has joined forces with over 100 influential politicians from all parties to speak out against errors in the legal conclusions in Defra’s recent Circus Working Group’s (CWG) report, which claimed that the Government would find difficulty in banning wild animals from circuses under the new Animal Welfare Act.

Astonished by the claims that the new Act, hailed as the biggest reform of animal welfare legislation in a hundred years, ADI commissioned a report from leading Parliamentary Law firm Bircham Dyson Bell to establish whether the Government could press ahead with its commitment to ban wild animals from travelling circuses.

The independent legal report confirms ADI’s belief that the Government can fulfil its commitment to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. It also contends that the conclusions of the CWG Report are in fact incorrect in law. The new report has been circulated to ministers and MPs.

The CWG report, delivered to Defra’s Ministers in November last year, concluded that a lack of scientific evidence prevented the Government fulfilling its commitment to ban wild animals in circuses under Section 12 of the new Animal Welfare Act 2006. ADI decided to put this statement to the test, and commissioned parliamentary legal experts, Bircham Dyson Bell.

The Bircham Dyson Bell lawyers conclude: “the Secretary of State (or National Assembly for Wales) is able to make regulations under section 12 AWA 2006 banning wild animals in travelling circuses, it is a question as to whether there is political will to do so.”

Parliament has been waiting for the Government to fulfil its promise of over two years ago, when (then) Defra Minister Ben Bradshaw announced plans to ban “certain non-domesticated species” from travelling circuses.

There remains strong cross party and public support for a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses – indeed many back a ban on the use of all animals in circuses.

Mark Pritchard, Conservative MP for the Wrekin, has tabled and Early Day Motion, EDM 965 – already signed by 113 MPs: “The government needs to keep its promise made during the passage of the Animal Welfare Bill and bring to a complete end the use of non-domesticated animals in circuses. Ministers should also ensure that the use of all other circus animals is subject to strict licensing controls and welfare regulations and inspections”.

Lib Dem MP Bob Russell: “There can be no half measures with animal cruelty. Forcing animals to perform unnatural acts, even in the name of so-called entertainment, is totally unaccepted. All animal acts in circuses should be outlawed because they represent cruelty."

Labour MP, Steven Pound: “To force animals to - literally - jump through hoops not only demeans the animal but debases the humans who witness it and indicts those who see animals as an entertainment commodity. Animal Defenders International have my wholehearted support”.

Jan Creamer, ADI Chief Executive: “There is overwhelming evidence showing the suffering of animals in traveling circuses. With the best will in the world, with limited space, using temporary accommodation, and spending long periods in transporters to travel on a weekly basis, circuses simply cannot provide adequate facilities for the animals in their care. Unfortunately, the methods used by the CWG to assess the evidence were flawed, leading to a flawed report, and now, we can confirm that it was legally flawed too. The public and members of Parliament want a ban, it is time to end this barbaric and indefensible suffering.”


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