Shameful Circus Indifference

God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages.

Quote by Jacques Deval, French Playwright

The injustice of our Animal neighbours in captivity has been given a prominent platform recently. “Our Zoo”, a BBC drama, which charts the story of Chester Zoo, features various wild animals trained to “perform” in the “entertainment” industry. The BBC has faced criticism from 3 leading Animal Welfare Charities over its use of the wild animals that have been forced into these performances.

This issue highlights the plight of wild animals used in the entertainment industry. They are forced into the unwilling role of performer for the purposes of human enjoyment with no thought spared for their own needs and interests.

The animal training company that provided the BBC with these beautiful wild beings is Amazing Animals who are based near Chipping Norton. As well as supplying animals for the entertainment industry, they also supply animals directly to the circus industry overseas and here in the UK.

Yes, astonishingly, wild animals are still being  used and abused in circuses here in the UK even though the continued use of wild animals in circuses is widely opposed and their unpopularity has seen the number of circuses with such acts plummet over the last 15 years to just 2.

Peter Jolly’s circus forces 18 wild animals to perform including snakes, camels and zebras, as well as, shockingly and sadly, 2 lions and 3 tigers. Circus Mondao makes camels, zebras, reindeer, horses, a donkey, a fox and a dog “perform”. Thankfully, over 200 local authorities in the UK have bans on the use of wild animals in circuses in place,  and more than two thirds of these ban ALL performing animals, the remainder just wild animals.

Circuses deny animals their freedom and suppress their natural wild nature through confinement, tethering and subjugation. These animals are subject to physical and mental suffering. Circuses using wild animals represent dominion and oppression and undermine conservation efforts by demeaning these animals and presenting them as playthings.  The impact of circuses on animal welfare is serious and potentially debilitating for each and every animal involved.

Defenders of the circus say that it is a great British tradition, but forcing any Non-Consenting Beings to do something they don’t want to do is cruel, inhumane and unnecessary. It is not some quaint tradition. It is an archaic and heartless practice which must be stopped completely.

The Next Evolutionary step for Humankind is to move from Human to Kind

Quote by Sun, founder of Gentle World

Globally, thousands of wild animals are still forced to perform demeaning and unnatural tricks to entertain the public. They are exploited in travelling circuses, side-shows and within zoos, and used in advertising, film and television.

These poor souls are often made to perform ‘stunts’ and ‘humanized’ behaviours that are completely against their nature. Parrots riding bicycles, elephants standing on their heads or walking a tightrope, chimpanzees smoking cigarettes, and tigers jumping through hoops of fire are just some of the examples.

The training of these wild animals often relies heavily on physical domination and fear, in an attempt to ensure the constant attention and compliance of the animal in front of an audience or camera. There have been numerous undercover investigations and reports from ex-trainers revealing evidence of systematic mistreatment and animal abuse.

Tigers are made to jump through hoops and elephants taught to stand on their heads. Domesticated animals such as horses are forced to carry numerous people on their backs and perform “dances” which puts dangerous pressure on their joints and ligaments, risking long-term health damage.

In circuses, animals are transported from location to location, forced to suffer long, constant arduous journeys. They are repeatedly loaded and unloaded, kept in small, cramped beast-wagons and spend extended periods tied up, or chained and caged within trucks with no freedom of movement. . Housed in temporary, transportable accommodation, it is simply not possible for noisy circuses to provide an appropriate environment for wild animals.

Our Unwillingness to see personhood in nonhuman animals does not diminish their personhood; it diminishes our humanity

Lions living in backs of lorries, Elephants spending their nights shackled by their legs, zebras and horses living in makeshift stalls in the big top. Similarly, animals used in the film industry are also routinely confined to cages between “takes”. Research has shown that spending many hours travelling or confined to rudimentary housing and a small and unnatural environment which cannot meet even basic welfare needs, can cause heightened stress responses in an animal, resulting in serious negative welfare impacts. Training, boredom and the frustration in trying to cope with these unnatural conditions often result in an animal developing abnormal behaviour from the stress of coping in their poor quality environment, the noisy conditions of a circus

In the UK circuses mentioned above, video evidence by Animal Defenders UK shows camels packed into small metal cages with little space to do anything before being made to perform in front of hundreds of people. These Poor beings are very large animals who need room to move around and graze. In this environment they have no room to enjoy life and are doomed to a life of misery.

It is absolutely outdated and unacceptable to use wild animals in circuses or to market products by making animals perform unnatural behaviours. Such acts misrepresent the true nature of the animals; require the animals to be subjected to an often abusive and uncomfortable lifestyle; and undermines public respect for the natural world, sending a damaging message that animals can be manipulated for our amusement. The use of animals on TV and films can trigger trends in exotic pet ownership when people are inspired to buy an animal they have seen on film or TV.

Animals have their own integrity and aspirations, they are not novelties; The use of animals as “entertainers” removes animals from their natural habitat; deprives them of the ability to freely engage in instinctual behaviors; often involves cruel training methods; desensitizes both children and adults to animal mistreatment; and does not adequately address the real conservation threats that face animals in the wild.

Our Non-Human neighbours have their own needs, interests, and rights including the right to engage in their natural behaviors in their natural environment and they should be treated with Respect and Compassion.

Kindness is not an act, it’s a lifestyle

Quote by Anthony Douglas Williams, Author

Thanks to the tireless work of animal organisations the general public are now aware of the harm inflicted on animals in circuses. Fifteen years ago, Animal Defenders international exposed the activities of one of the world’s most famous circus trainers, Mary Chipperfield. She and her husband were convicted of animal cruelty , a historic moment that heralded the end of the animal circus boom.

It was the Mary Chipperfield case that sounded the alarm, but it was Anne, the UK’s last circus elephant, who ironically dealt the final blow to the circus industry. In March 2011, ADI exposed the miserable, lonely life of this elderly and arthritic elephant who had endured chaining and brutal beatings at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus. This led to the conviction, on two charges of animal cruelty, of the circus owner.

ADI revealed that Anne was kept chained constantly, with the chains so short she was only able to take a single step forwards or backwards. Other circus animals observed by ADI were tied for over 90% of the time, some with such restricted movement that they could not even lay down. Anne’s mistreatment appalled most people; prompting a renewed call for wild circus animals to be banned.

Compassion for animals is intimately connected with Goodness of Character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.

Quote by Schopenhauer, German Philosopher

1 year later, in March 2012, the government finally announced its intention to ban wild animals in circuses “at the earliest opportunity”. A draft Bill to ban the “cruel and outdated practise of exploiting wild animals in travelling circuses” was published last March (2013), noting  “There is little or no educational, conservational, research or economic benefit derived from wild animals in travelling circuses that might justify their use and the loss of their ability to behave naturally as a wild animal.”

However, surprise, surprise, this promise has not materialised and little has been heard of the Bill since. As we know, the welfare of our wild neighbours is not a priority for this government. If the government does not act urgently, the Bill’s planned implementation date of 1 December 2015 could be missed or possibly dropped altogether, allowing animals to continue to suffer in this crude, barbaric Victorian form of ‘entertainment’.

Public support for a ban on wild animals in circuses has been consistently high for many years. The public recognise and abhor the suffering of Wild Animals. In 2010, a Defra consultation showed a resounding 94.5% of the British public supported a ban on wild animal acts. They’d like to see a ban on circuses exploiting wild animals by touring them and forcing them to perform demeaning and humiliating tricks. As mentioned above,  200 councils have introduced local bans and around the world 25 countries have placed national restrictions on the use of animals in circuses. The delay in bringing in the ban has seen the return of big cats to British circuses.  As I wrote about above, a lion and tiger act presented by Thomas Chipperfield, a relative of the notorious Mary Chipperfield, is now performing with Peter Jolly’s Circus. What other species might we see if the ban continues to falter? In the past, elephants and bears have performed in this country and shockingly, Amazing Animals recently “supplied” 3 wild brown bear cubs to the organisers of the Enstone Country Fair here in West Oxfordshire, as part of the afternoons entertainment. The organisers went ahead with this cruel and archaic spectacle despite receiving over 2000 emails from members of the public requesting that they reconsider and cancel the stunt.

We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.

Quote by Dr Albert Schweitzer, German Philosopher

The BBC is rightly being held to account for supporting the use of wild animals for entertainment and supporting and funding an organisation, which, 4 years ago, secretly shipped 4 young white lion cubs over to Japan to join a circus.

As Adam Roberts, Acting CEO of the Born Free Foundation said….” The BBC has a global reputation for quality programming. If it wishes to retain that reputation it must move with the times and adapt to changing attitudes. The use of captive wild animals for entertainment is now widely regarded as unethical among the British public and we are convinced that a lifetime of training, transport and performance puts the welfare of the animals at significant risk”

Most British people now believe it is unacceptable in the 21st century to keep elephants in chains, or lions and tigers in tiny cages on the back of a lorry. They’ve backed a ban on wild animals in circuses for more than a decade. The government has promised a ban. Enough is enough, let’s get this Bill passed and consign wild animal circuses to the history books. Tigers, elephants, horses, camels, zebras, lions, snakes, raccoons, foxes, penguins, dogs and other animals do not choose to join the circus, they want to live a free life as any living being does,  away from the glare of the circus lights where they will not be forced to turn tricks or endure confinement and stressful travel.
Please see the link below for how you can take action to ensure that the UK government bring in its promised ban and stop stalling on this most important of issues.


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