Ireland bans wild animals in circuses
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The 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.

 

The 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 circus.”

 

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 We urge the UK and the USA to follow Ireland’s lead and consign these outdated acts to the past where they belong.”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 stereotypical behaviour.

 

Undercover 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.

 

Expert 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’”.

 

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.”

 

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.”
 

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.

 

In 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.

In 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.

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