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Update: The UK Government has announced it does not intend to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, favouring a regulatory system instead. 

However, in making its decision, the Government has been accused of misleading the public, with the claim that court proceedings challenging the Austrian circus animal ban are active, but have been delayed. This is incorrect and the legal action was never filed, a fact which has been confirmed by The Austrian Constitutional Court.

The Defra Minister Jim Paice MP was put under intense pressure to explain the Government’s position by politicians from all parties. He admitted that his comments made regarding the legal case were incorrect.

Please sign and share this petition, and help urge the Government to turn around this decision and implement a ban on wild animals in circuses.

As well as signing this petition, you can also:

Write to your MP at: The House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Write to Caroline Spelman, The House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Write to Lord Henley, the Minister responsible for animal welfare at: The House of Lords, London, SW1A 0WP.

For more information, contact ADI. Email at



Animal Defenders International recently released shocking footage from behind the scenes at the winter quarters of Bobby Roberts Super Circus, which graphically shows violence and confinement of circus animals.

ADI secured footage over a three and a half week period from a camera observing activity in a barn where the animals are kept when not touring, which shows a staggeringly high level of violence and serious animal husbandry flaws.

Incidents included Annie (Anne), an elderly, severely arthritic 57 year old elephant being hit with a metal pitchfork and kicked around the face and body 48 times over the period of observation by workers, who are also seen beating and spitting on a camel and beating miniature ponies and horses on numerous occasions.

ADI has now exposed the shocking abuse of animals in UK circuses from several random undercover investigations over the last fifteen years. Only recently, in 2009, the beating of elephants at the Great British Circus was exposed and now in 2011 Bobby Roberts Super Circus shows that this is a way of life at the circus.

A clear pattern has been proven and this time the UK government needs to act.

Animals like elephants suffer in the travelling circus. In the name of entertainment they are beaten, jabbed with hooks and hit with pitchforks, chained up for hours every day, and pushed into metal boxes each week where they remain for hours on end whilst the circus moves to another site. And when they are meant to be resting in their winter quarters the abuse and cruelty continues.

The public wants to see a ban, Parliament wants a ban, animal protection groups want a ban. A ban is the only way to put an end, once and for all, to this deplorable violence and deprivation, and government must act now.

As well as signing this petition, you can also:

Write to your MP at: The House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Write to Lord Henley, the Minister responsible for animal welfare at: The House of Lords, London, SW1A 0WP.

For more information, contact ADI. Email at

Visit ADI's website:

Letter to
UK Prime Minister David Cameron
UK Defra Minister Lord Henley
UK Defra Minister Caroline Spelman
We, the undersigned, are dismayed to learn that the UK Government will not be banning the use of animals in circuses and that it will set up a licensing regime instead.

A licensing system which incorporates rules of transport, facilities and treatment of animals will not deal with the core issues affecting the welfare of wild animals in UK circuses.  Animals will still endure confinement, long hours in transporters, deprivation and abuse to make them perform tricks. All of these situations have been proven by undercover investigation led by Animal Defenders International (ADI) on the treatment of three elephants with the Great British Circus (2009) and the treatment of the elephant Anne in Bobby Roberts Circus (2011). Despite the best will in the world, circuses cannot provide these animals with what they need to keep them happy and healthy.  

Furthermore, a licensing system will be difficult to enforce as inspectors will have to be trained and will also have to travel throughout the country to ensure that regulations are met.  Defra will doubtless have to make a substantial investment to set up this inspectorate, which will have to funded by the UK taxpayer during a time of economic austerity.  Such a system would be highly impractical, and very expensive.

A recent poll carried out by You Gov showed that a massive 72% of the public backed a ban with only 8% against. This means that almost 3 out 4 members of the public want a ban.  The results of Defra’s 2010 public consultation also confirm this data.

Finally, it has been reported that Defra used incorrect information from press reports to make its decision not to ban. It seems that the reports of a case in the Austrian Courts challenging a law that prohibits animal circus in the country turned out to be incorrect. Considering that the record has been set straight, Defra should now be able to enact a ban without further delay.

We therefore urge you to please reconsider your decision and support an immediate ban on the use of animals in circuses.


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