Having served as a member of parliament for more than two decades, I’m well aware that there can be genuine constraints that affect the speed at which certain issues progress. The government’s failure to ban wild animals in circuses, however, has me, along with much of the country, utterly baffled. The British Veterinary Association has stated unequivocally that the complex needs of animals cannot be met in a circus environment. Other highly respected organisations, including Peta, the RSPCA, Born Free and the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, have all been calling for a ban, and the vast majority of the British public is also in favour. In a rare show of unity, even parliament went so far as to direct the government to introduce a regulation prohibiting wild-animal acts last June, and yet here we are, eight months on, and no further forward.
It’s clear the government was biding its time to see the outcome of Circus Krone’s challenge to Austria’s ban, but the Austrian constitutional court staunchly defended the legality of the ban and, in December, threw out the application to have it overturned. An elephant expert who worked in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for eight years has called the lack of action on this issue “completely barking mad” and said circuses were “fundamentally unsuited” to keeping elephants, big cats, bears and other wild animals. The European Commission has twice affirmed the validity of national bans on animal circuses. Even Greece introduced its own national ban last month. It’s unconscionable for us to deny wild animals in British circuses their freedom, and while Defra dawdles, these animals continue to endure cramped cages, whips and ankuses.
Who could forget the gut-wrenching undercover video footage of Anne, the elephant who was hit with a pitchfork and a club while she was chained up and unable to escape? The abuse of Anne at Bobby Roberts Super Circus is not unique.
“I created a petition on Care2 regards Anne with over 3,500 signatures; so I am very familiar with this case. I have also been proactive regards trying to get a ban on circus animals in Britain”.
“I have written numerous letters to Defra, Lord Henley & the government etc. regards imposing a ban on wild animals in UK circuses; If Greece can impose a bill, so can Britain… below is one reply to a letter sent”.
The Government claimed earlier this year that there were legal impediments to a ban, and cited the upcoming Krone case – even before it had been lodged. (Just like the above reply I received)
Animals do not belong in circuses period; have you seen the way young elephants are trained? performing stupid tricks is both detrimental to the health of the animal & also degrading!
Now, the Government’s last so-called ‘impediment’ has gone. The Austrian Court told ADI that it: “could not find that such a ban would encroach on the applicant’s right “to practice every kind of gainful activity” guaranteed by the Basic Law of 21 December 1867 on the General Rights of Nationals in the Kingdoms and Länder represented in the Council of the Realm. Though the ban was interfering with this right, this interference was based on public interest (namely the protection of the animals) and both necessary and appropriate for the legislator to reach this goal. Thus the interference with the applicant’s right was justified and proportional.”
Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI said: “This case proves that there are no obstacles at EU level that will prevent the UK from enacting an immediate ban.