95% of British public ignored in DEFRA U-Turn

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95% of British public ignored in DEFRA U-Turn

Postby Catt Queen » Sat May 14, 2011 7:48 am


Thursday, May 12th, 2011

A public consultation which resulted in 95% of respondents demanding a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses as well as a petition launched just last week which already boasts more than 15,000 signatures appear to have been ignored today as the Government confirmed its plans to implement regulatory measures for circuses that use wild animals as part of their acts.

The Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS), one of the organisations leading the campaign on the issue, today issued a statement saying the move was extremely disappointing; most obviously for the animals but also as a sign of our government’s utter disregard for public will on the subject.

CAPS and other animal groups have long lobbied for a complete ban on using animals in circuses given the inherent cruelty of training, transporting and confining animals to perform. The decision, which was alluded to yesterday and confirmed today in a formal announcement was met with surprise; not only because of the overwhelming public and political support for a ban, but because the decision appears to demonstrate a complete ‘U-turn’ on behalf of the government department which, just last month, stated it was minded to pursue a ban.

The reason given for the decision was that legal proceedings were attempted against the Austrian government following their imposition of a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in 2005. The challenge was overruled by the European Commission, who stated that member states were best placed to legislate on welfare issues. Despite vowing to continue to challenge the decision, the European Circus Association, who made the complaint, has seen no results six years on. Whether or not any formal legal action has even been taken since the initial failed complaint is unclear at this point. We are seeking to verify the details of the case at present.

Liz Tyson, CAPS Director, said:

“That the government has chosen to ignore the public will, the expert advice, the evidence of animal suffering and the request of its own members by failing to implement the ban is disgraceful. In a time when our leaders talk with such gusto on the importance of involvement in the Big Society and the need for constituents to take an active role in shaping our country, it cannot help but leave a bad taste in the mouth when the thousands that did take the time, all those that did try to make their voices heard, have found their calls have fallen on deaf ears.

“To cite a legal challenge which was overruled at European Commission level long before the public consultation process was begun in the UK as the reason for the decision is extremely misguided. We pride ourselves on being a nation of animal lovers and, as such, we should have the courage of our convictions and be seen to be standing in support of those member states that have already done the right thing by bringing in a ban. We certainly should not allow our legislative process to be held to ransom by the threat of potential legal action at some undefined point in the future; particularly not action which already appears to have been shown to lack standing.

“The Government has not only subjected animals currently in UK circuses to ongoing suffering but they have opened the floodgates for even more wild animals to be treated in this way.

“We urge the Government to look again at this and recognise a ban as the only practical way forward to protect animals and will be in contact with government representatives in order to gain a full explanation as to the reasoning and justification behind today’s news”

Messages supporting CAPS’ stance have begun coming in:

Baroness Smith of Basildon, member of the House of Lords and CAPS patron: I am appalled. For the Government to fail to act on protecting preforming animals is bitterly disappointing – and so hard to understand. The Government has ignored the evidence, it has ignored public support and it has ignored the best interests of performing animals.

This is a bad decision and the Government should reconsider as a matter of urgency.

Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner and CAPS patron:
This is a surprising, shocking decision. The government has disregarded animal welfare and public opinion. We won’t give up until wild animals are banned from circuses. Their abuse is incompatible with a humane, compassionate society.

Professor Marc Bekoff, Expert in Animal Behaviour and CAPS Patron:

The decision to allow wild animals to be used and abused in circuses is a major step-back in the global move to protect animals from the horrific abuse to which they’re subjected in these unneeded venues. Animals are not mere objects to be used for our entertainment. They are sentient, feeling beings whose pains and suffering matter very much to them, as they should to us. Shame on the UK government for supporting animal abuse.

A Bristol University study in 2009 found that circuses fail to provide some of the most basic welfare needs of wild animals, such as space and social groups.


Notes to Editors:

For more information contact: Liz Tyson: 0845 330 3911 / 07805 458 955

Photos and video of animals in circuses is available from CAPS.
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Catt Queen
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