Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD has signed
regulations banning the use of wild animals in circuses in Ireland. Hot on the
heels of Italy banning all animal circus acts on Wednesday, it comes after a
decade of campaigning to stop circus suffering in Ireland by Animal
Defenders International (ADI) and ARAN.
Circuses (Prohibition on Use of Wild Animals) Regulations 2017 will come into
effect on January 1st 2018. Minister Creed said “The use
of wild animals for entertainment purposes in circuses can no longer be
permitted. This is the general view of the public at large and a position I am
happy to endorse. This is a progressive move, reflective of our commitment
to animal welfare. I am of course allowing a modest lead in period to allow for
alternative arrangements to be made for the animals in question.” He also
stated that “Coming in line with modern welfare standards will mean that
greater numbers of the public will be more comfortable with going to the
ADI President Jan Creamer said: “Having campaigned to stop circus
suffering in Ireland for more than a decade with our partners ARAN, we are
delighted wild animals in circuses will be banned from 2018. Circuses cannot
meet the needs of animals in small, mobile accommodation and Animal Defenders
International has repeatedly documented suffering and abuse. We urge the UK and
the USA to follow Ireland’s lead and consign these outdated acts to the past
where they belong.”
Since the launch of the ADI and ARAN
Stop Circus Suffering campaign in Ireland, the number of wild animals used has
fallen from nearly 70 to just a few. The Arts Council has also slashed its
funding of animal acts, and a growing number of local bans have been introduced
across the country.
Acknowledging changing times and
public attitudes, Fossett’s Marketing Manager Charles O’Brien told RTE Radio 1
that “the use of exotic animals….has been phased out over the last number of
years, partly for commercial reasons, partly for humane considerations”. He
said that the arrival of Circus Belly Wien who brought its elephants from the
Netherlands, where such acts had been banned, to Ireland last year had “set
circus back 30 years”. The controversial circus packed up and made its way
to France less than two months into a 9-month tour. Fossetts previously toured
with an elephant kept chained in the circus tent and who exhibited
investigations by ADI inside animal circuses in Ireland, 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.
analysis of scientific evidence undertaken by Professor Stephen Harris at
Bristol University last year 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’”.
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.”
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.”
In the United States, the campaign has
been accelerated by the collapse of the country’s largest animal circus
Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, and ADI is calling for Congress to
support the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (HR1759),
a federal bill that would end the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.
Introduced by Representatives Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ),
the bill currently has 32 co-sponsors and ADI has a week of action next week
calling for more.
In Scotland, the government has
introduced a bill to ban wild animals in circuses which has progressed to Stage
2 for further scrutiny. ADI and local supporters are urging Members of
the Scottish Parliament to back the legislation.
Wales, the government has recently consulted on mobile animal exhibits and
asked whether a ban on wild animals in circuses should be considered. ADI and
local supporters submitted responses to urge a ban at the earliest opportunity.
England, the government has stated that it remains committed to a ban but has
given no indication as to when the legislation, drafted and scrutinized back in
2013, will be introduced.