Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Time for action on circuses.

from Katya

One of the key issues I have been involved with over the past few months is the campaign to get a ban on wild animals in travelling circuses – a campaign which is at a critical stage.

We think that gawping at animals such as elephants, lions and tigers performing tricks in circuses is an outdated and unacceptable form of ‘entertainment’, especially since they are likely to suffer in this environment.

And we are not alone. A month ago MPs from across the political parties agreed with us and voted unanimously for a ban at a high-profile debate in the House of Commons.

They spoke passionately about the issue and against government plans to introduce a licensing regime instead of a ban – and we were delighted that something looked as if it was finally going to happen.

However, we have since heard worrying reports that despite this vote the government may still not be going ahead with plans for a ban. This has made us extremely concerned and we are calling on the government to act.

The issue of wild animals in circuses is one that has struck a chord in many people. A government consultation showed that 94% of the want a ban and there was widespread upset after heart-rending footage of Anne the elephant being abused by one of her keepers at a circus was revealed.

But it is not just animals like Anne that we need to be concerned about. The issues involved with wild animals in circuses go deeper than outright abuse.

Research has shown that the conditions necessary to meet the welfare needs of wild animals are simply not feasible in circuses – where frequent travel, restricted movements, poor living conditions and loud noises are a regular part of daily life.

The animals spend most of their time confined to enclosures where they pace up and down for hours on end. They are transported in beastwagons, which have to be a certain size to be allowed on roads, and housed in temporary cages, typically ¼ of the size of those recommended in zoos.

Some animals are simply tethered to a peg on the ground – unable to move a few metres or socialise with others.

And all in the name of 'entertainment.'

Katya Mira

RSPCA press officer

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