Circus owner defends use of animals as attraction arrives in Sutton Coldfield

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A RINGMASTER who reportedly claimed he would have to shoot his tigers if a ban on circus animals was passed has brought his troupe to the Midlands.

The Great British Circus began a three-week run at Kingsbury, near Sutton Coldfield, on Tuesday.

Now operating under the name Big Top Productions, (” why, why change the name, unless you don’t want to be associated with any past allegations!”) the circus is recreating children’s favourite Black Beauty and Friends. It features horses, tigers, camels and even a llama.

But owner Martin Lacey, who has trained animals for more than 40 years, said the accusations of cruelty were “absolute rubbish”.

 He told The Birmingham Mail: “These animals are worth a lot of money, are we going to be cruel to that investment?

“I’m not big or brave enough to beat up tigers – they would eat me.

“I have to be their best friend. It has to be organised play. That is how you train a dog – with organised play, this is the same.” “Mmmm…I don’t think it’s quite the same as training a dog! Even dogs have to be taught who is boss…so exactly how does he do that with lions?  The same as evey other circus trains their wild animals, with fear & abuse!!!”

Mr Lacey, whose tigers descend from a cat he collected in the 1970s from a back garden in Birmingham, said there had only been seven prosecutions for animal cruelty against circuses in more than 150 years.

“Daily in the courts there are pet owners who have mistreated their animals,” he said.

“In every industry there are some people who behave badly but you don’t close the whole industry”  “Well that would be because not all industry’s are working with endangered animals who have to perform degrading tricks to line your pockets!”

Mr Lacey’s circus has been dogged by criticism in recent years.

Three years ago an undercover investigation by an animal welfare group claimed to show elephants being beaten and jabbed with hooks.

A circus spokeswoman said yesterday that the elephants were hired in by an act and the contract was terminated once Mr Lacey became aware of their mistreatment. “That was rather convenient!”

And he came under fire when, discussing government plans to ban the use of performing animals, he reportedly said: “The Government is forcing me to put a bullet through the heads of my animals. This ban is illegal and a restraint of trade.“If a ban on wild animals came into place in the UK, no animals would have to be shot…what a moron!”

 The Government pledged in March to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses “at the earliest opportunity”.

But Mr Lacey said: “There’s no ban and I doubt there ever will be.

“A Defra report concluded there were no welfare problems and that circus care of animals was not better or worse than other animal keeping systems.”

Animal rights group Captive Animals Protection Society said it opposed the attraction.

Campaigns worker Emily Wise said: “Tigers are forced to jump through hoops – they are an endangered species and they are being carted around the country. Ethically we oppose animals being used for entertainment.”

What do you think of the use of animals in circuses? Email letters@birminghammail. net

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The government must act now to ban wild animals in circuses – Ann Widdecombe

Comments Off on The government must act now to ban wild animals in circuses – Ann Widdecombe

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.

http://www.ad-international.org/animals_in_entertainment/go.php?id=2432&ssi=10

via The government must act now to ban wild animals in circuses | Ann Widdecombe | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

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