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Animal Defenders International

Will UK Government finally ban wild animal circuses?

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Animal Defenders International

ADI has welcomed reports today that a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in England is finally to be progressed by the UK Government. If true, it signifies an end to years of inaction and more than a decade of promises by successive governments, during which ADI has time and again exposed animal suffering.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International
, said: "Animal Defenders International welcomes the reports of government plans to finally put the ban on wild animals in circuses before Parliament. However, we remain cautious after so many broken promises over the years. "When parliamentary time allows" has often, it seems, been code for "it's not going to happen", yet the public wants an end to circus suffering and ADI's evidence has repeatedly shown that circus animals urgently need government action".

Due to the level of cross-party support, the Labour Government first promised to ban wild animals in circuses during the passage of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Following the shocking abuse of three elephants at the Great British Circus in 2009, exposed by ADI, a public consultation on the issue was launched by Defra. The results published in 2010 showed 94.5% supported a ban on wild animal acts and resulted in a commitment from the Labour Government before the General Election resulted in a Coalition Government.

In 2011, ADI exposed the terrible abuse of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts Super Circus, leading to backbench MPs demanding a ban, again with cross-party support. ADI’s shocking footage also led to a cruelty conviction for circus owner Bobby Roberts. With a commitment from the Coalition Government in 2012, legislation was drafted the following year but the bill has simply gathered dust. In the 2015 election 98% of MPs stood on a manifesto promise to ban wild animals in circuses. Repeated efforts by backbench MPs to bring in a ban through Private Member’s Bills have been thwarted by just a few MPs.

In 2016, ADI revealed the miserable lives of Thomas Chipperfield’s lions and tigers, caged on the back of a truck and shut behind metal shutters at night and with restricted access to an outdoor exercise during the day. ADI also revealed suffering the same year at the winter quarters of Peter Jolly’s Circus. Appalling overcrowding, fighting between animals, a worker tormenting a camel, animals kept inside for days on end, and failure to comply with government regulations were documented.

Changing attitudes and awareness of animal suffering have seen the number of wild animal circuses in Britain plummet. Only two circuses with wild animals performed in England last year, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus.

Expert analysis of scientific evidence undertaken by Professor Stephen Harris at Bristol University in 2016, and commissioned by the Welsh Government, concluded, “The available scientific evidence indicates that captive wild animals in circuses and other travelling animal shows do not achieve their optimal welfare requirements.” The report stated that “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’”.

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) has concluded “there is by no means the possibility that their [wild mammals in traveling circuses’] physiological, mental and social requirements can adequately be met.” while the British Veterinary Association concludes that “The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus - in terms of housing or being able to express normal behaviour.”

Undercover investigations by ADI inside animal circuses in the UK, Europe, US, and South America have lifted the curtain on the abuse that goes on behind the scenes in circuses leading to bans in countries as diverse as Greece, Singapore, Costa Rica, Taiwan and Colombia. In Bolivia and Peru, ADI has completed major enforcement operations, with wildlife officials and police, tracking down every circus and rescuing all the animals – approaching 200 animals were rescued and relocated.

More than 40 countries around the world have introduced prohibitions on animals in circuses to date and opinion polls consistently show that the UK public remains overwhelmingly opposed to wild animal acts, with a high proportion against all animal acts. In November, Ireland introduced regulations prohibiting wild animal acts from 1 January 2018; in December Scotland unanimously voted in favour of legislation to ban and Wales indicated it will work with Defra and the Devolved Administrations to “consider cross-border issues” given the “strong support for a ban” following its consultation on mobile animal exhibits.

Reports of a ban in England come on the day New Jersey votes to become the first US state to ban wild animal acts. Over 80 US jurisdictions in 31 states have taken action to restrict such acts.

Given the constant travel and their temporary nature, circuses cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them physically or psychologically healthy. Welfare is always compromised.

Lonely monkey finds his Val-entine

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An embrace with Valerie ends a lifetime of loneliness for rescued Pepe

Lima, Peru: The tale of Pepe, a spider monkey rescued from a circus in world-famous holiday destination Cusco, by London-based Animal Defenders International (ADI) has gripped animal lovers around the world.

The intelligent, playful monkey had been kept alone and chained by the neck for eight years. The circus had snapped off Pepe’s canine teeth so that he could not defend himself, and the world’s leading veterinary dentist had to be flown in to repair the damage. Now, in the most moving chapter of his story so far, Pepe has finally been reunited with his own kind.

ADI has been assisting the Peruvian authorities to enforce their ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, as well as with the relocation of animals seized from the illegal pet trade – a mission called Operation Spirit of Freedom. In January, the ADI rescue centre outside Lima received Valerie, a young, illegally-trafficked spider monkey who was being used for entertainment in a restaurant.

For Valentine’s Day, ADI has released the heart-warming images of Pepe meeting Valerie for the first time, and their joy as they begin to play and chatter to each other:


ADI President Jan Creamer said “Pepe is a gentle soul with a big heart and we are absolutely thrilled to see him and Valerie together knowing they both spent so many years alone – it was a very emotional moment. Pepe has been incredibly affectionate with all of us, but we knew that what he really needed was someone of his own kind to love.”

“We urgently need funds for the habitats in the Amazon to make the forever homes for Pepe, Valerie and the other monkeys we have rescued. They deserve their own happily-ever-after. Just £6 will help give Pepe and Valerie the perfect happy ending.”

ADI has a temporary rescue centre just outside Lima, with a full time veterinary team acting as a hub for Operation Spirit of Freedom in Peru. ADI is caring for 21 lions and over 20 other native wild animals there – mainly monkeys. ADI will be relocating all of the animals to permanent homes in the next two months including flying the 21 lions plus 9 other lions from Colombia, to a sanctuary in Colorado, USA.
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As part of the rehabilitation programme, ADI experts assess the individual animals and form family groups so they can be rehomed together. Prior to their emotional union, Pepe and Valerie had reached out to each other and held hands through the bars of their neighbouring enclosures. Then under the watchful eyes of the ADI team, the two monkeys were allowed to meet.

All of the native wildlife rescued during ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom, including Pepe and Valerie, will be relocated to sanctuaries in Peru’s Amazon forests but ADI must first construct the jungle habitats that will be their homes.

Jan Creamer, “The current care, relocation and habitat construction costs for this important rescue operation are enormous, but we hope that if Pepe and Valerie’s story touches people’s hearts this Valentine’s Day they will help put right the wrong done to these animals at the hands of people.”

Please donate to help ADI build Pepe and Valerie a new home in the Amazon here >>> LINK (UK)

Find out more about ADI’s Operation Spirit of Freedom here >>> LINK