Don't allow the Cruel Animal Circus to Perform on your Land

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Peter Jolly’s Circus holes up at its Shropshire base for 4-5 months each year for a winter break. ADI made extensive observations of the winter quarters during two winter breaks using hidden cameras in March and November 2015, and again in February and March 2016.

Despite that the site has been in operation for decades and been inspected by Defra, there is little evidence that any effort has been put into providing appropriate facilities for the animals. The ADI team filmed:

  • Appalling overcrowding
  • Fighting between animals
  • A worker spitting in the face of and tormenting a camel
  • Ponies tangled in short tethers
  • Animals crammed in a run-down building for 14 hours a day
  • Some animals shut in the dilapidated building for days on end
  • On one occasion, animals tethered for up to 40 hours
  • Government regulations ignored


During the first 16-hour observation, zebras Watusi and Zumba, Kashmir the camel, and Onkuli the ankole never left the barn (the ankole died on tour a few months later). The UK’s temporary regulations governing the use of wild animals in circuses in England stipulate that licensed animals must have “the opportunity for physical exercise for a minimum of six hours in any 24 hour period” and that “Reasonable effort must be made to allow grazing animals an opportunity to graze on a daily basis.”

During two of the ADI visits, zebras Watusi and Zumba were confined to a tiny pen. Measuring just 7.8 square metres, this is less than half the minimum 20 square metres stipulated by Defra. Camel Kashmir and ankole Onkuli shared a pen of 17.65 square metres, again falling short of the required minimum size. ADI believes Defra’s minimum requirement of a space just 4 metres by 5 metres for a wild animal such as a zebra is inadequate – yet Jolly’s did not even provide this.

Tethered for at least 16 hours of the day, the camel and ankole were unable to turn around comfortably. Domesticated species were confined also, with two goats sharing a tiny concrete cell just 2.6 square metres and seven llamas housed in a small pen.

Tied up and unable to escape, Kashmir the camel was filmed being intimidated, taunted and spat at by a worker.

Last month, during the most recent 13-day ADI observation, 18 equines were tethered and crowded inside the barn for approximately 15 hours every day, and on one occasion for a continuous 40-hour period. Kashmir the camel was confined to his pen for 6 days; while the goats were forced to spend their entire time in the tiny pen, their only respite when their pen was cleaned and they were tied up in the main area of the barn for 6 hours. 

Bullying is rife as horses, ponies and donkeys vie for space. Individuals were filmed biting and kicking one another as tempers flare and tethers become tangled. The 18 animals share a space less than 12 metres by 5.5 metres and are unable to lie down comfortably. The Defra Code of Practice for equines (a code not specific to circuses) states “as a minimum, each horse should have sufficient room to lie down, readily rise and turn around in comfort”. The animals also do not have access to water when indoors; the Code of Practice states that “It is essential that all horses have continuous access to a clean supply of fresh water. When this is impractical adequate clean water should be made available to them on a frequent and regular basis”. Horses can require anything from 20-70 litres of water daily.

Peter Jolly’s Circus is one of two circuses licensed to perform in England with wild animals. There are no such regulations for domestic species.

Despite a 2012 commitment and a 2015 manifesto pledge to ban wild animals in circuses, little progress has been made to pass legislation. Two Private Members’ Bills using the government’s own wording, most recently introduced by Conservative MP Will Quince in February, have been unsuccessful.



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