Action is needed to prevent circus animal suffering being shifted from UK to Ireland

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

As the UK government published draft legislation to ban the use of wild animals in circuses today, the ISPCA has joined forces with Freedom for Animals, in a
call to ensure that Ireland does not become a dumping ground for circus animal from England. With a new commitment to ban wild animals in English circuses by the end of 2015 and other animal acts, including horses and dogs, being ditched by shows as the public stay away, a number of the animals have been taken on by Irish circuses. A spokesperson from the ISPCA warned that more will follow if action is not taken soon to ensure that the suffering of circus animals is not simply shifted from one country to another.

Last circus season, which usually runs from spring to late autumn, a horse and pony act which had previously toured with English circus, Paulo’s, joined Irish Circus Gerbola after questionnaires carried out with the audience of the English operation to garner support for animal acts appeared to backfire. The owner of Paulo’s circus said of his decision to scrap animals: “When we put animals back in last year it shocked some of our customers, so we’re now making it clear we don’t have them any more”[1].

This season, another act moved over the water as the notorious Martin Lacey, owner of the Great British Circus, sent his five tigers to join Courtney Brothers’ Circus. This appears to be in response to the proposed ban on the use of wild animals in English circuses, which is currently being worked upon in Westminster. This year is the first year in decades that the Great British Circus has not toured England with its menagerie.

Dr Andrew Kelly, spokesperson for the ISPCA said:

“Circuses are no place for animals and the ISPCA is disappointed to learn that these tigers have been moved from the Great British Circus to join Courtney Brothers’ Circus in Ireland. We hope that the forthcoming ban on wild animals in circuses in England does not result in other wild animals being shipped to Irish circuses. Sadly, the Irish Government recently missed an opportunity to ban wild animals from circuses in Ireland but the amendments to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill proposed by TDs Maureen O’Sullivan and Clare Day were rejected at the Dail. “

Liz Tyson, Director of Freedom for Animals:

“What is required is a joined up approach. We cannot celebrate that the suffering of wild animals in circuses is almost over here in England, and that circuses with domesticated animals are on the decrease, when we know those self-same animals will continue to be exploited just a stone’s throw away in Ireland. There are few circuses based in Ireland at the moment, with relatively few animals, so now would be the perfect time to take decisive action to ensure that the problem isn’t simply transferred”.

The groups are working together to see a ban on the use of animals in circuses across Ireland and calling on members of the public to ensure that they choose an all-human show for their big top fix this year.


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