“At last, the big top is falling…but I wish it applied to all animals. All animals in circuses are deprived of their basic needs to exercise, roam, socialize, forage, and play. Horses will still be forced to perform confusing and physically challenging tricks. Former Ringling animal crew employees contacted PETA & reported that horses are grabbed by the throat, stabbed with pitchforks, punched in the face, given painful “lip twists,” and whipped. All animals feel pain, fear, loneliness, stress etc. So why ban one & not the other?? Or am I asking too much? I am very happy that wild animals will finally be banned; but I would have felt a lot happier had it been a ban on all animals performing in circuses!”
Today, draft legislation was announced that would see it become an offence to use wild animals in travelling circuses in England from 2015.
The Born Free Foundation has worked consistently for an end to the use of wild animals in circuses since its inception in 1984. Foundation representatives participated in the first Circus Working Group in the mid-1990s, and the second in 2004. Over the years Born Free has seen many lows, and precious few highs. Yet, throughout, the message has been the same: a travelling circus simply cannot meet the needs of wild animals.
Virginia McKenna OBE, Founder of the Born Free Foundation, said: “It has taken a long time – too long – but at last the end is in sight. I know for many, many people this will be a reason to rejoice. I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make a ban a reality, including Parliamentarians of all Parties. Victories for common-sense and compassion are all too rare. “
It is disappointing that it has taken this long to get to this stage, given that the recent initiative to ban originated in discussions that took place prior to the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Nonetheless, the draft legislation should be welcomed as finally reflecting public, Parliamentary and expert opinion.
Born Free remains committed to supporting the enactment of similar legislation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and for an end to the use of wild animals in circuses worldwide.
Will Travers OBE, the Foundation’s CEO, commented: “I hardly dared imagine we would see such a day when, year after year, meeting after meeting, the NGOs participating in the various Circus Working Groups churned through the evidence, debated the practicalities, fought against Defra’s institutional inertia and Government opposition to a ban. Our supporters have been amazing as have our colleagues in other organisations. One more form of wild animal exploitation is on its way out.”
It would not have been possible to achieve this without the support of campaign partners the RSPCA, CAPS and the BVA, and without the help of Born Free supporters. The work of the Zoo Check team is central to the work of the Foundation, and they work tirelessly to protect animals in zoos, circuses, as pets and in the tourist trade around the world.
If you would like to help support the Foundation’s work on captive animal welfare, please consider becoming a member of the Born Free Foundation or making a donation: www.bornfree.org.uk/give