Archive for June, 2008

Good news for great apes!

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Dear friends,

Great news for great apes, and from an unexpected place!

Yesterday it was reported that the Spanish parliament has passed a resolution granting basic rights to great apes – the right to life, freedom, and not being tortured. This is groundbreaking stuff, especially from a country better known to animal lovers as the home of bullfighting. If passed as law – and it seems to have cross-party support – the implications would be very significant. Naturally it would make it illegal to experiment on apes in Spain, as it already is in the UK, although no such experiments are currently taking place. It would also make it illegal to use chimps in circuses and filming for adverts, TV or movies. This is great news, and comes at a time when the UK government still seems reluctant to use the recent Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the use of any species of wild animal in our circuses.

Opponents will no doubt decry this is ‘human rights for animals’ but really the apes are just getting what they deserve – ‘ape rights’. That means respect for them as the intelligent and sensitive beings that they are, and an end to the cruel and degrading treatment that they have suffered at human hands for far too long.

We hope that this move signifies the beginning of the end…

Blogging off,


The Circus Debate

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Well my recent blog about circuses (Sad Saturday) seems to have got people talking (we’ve posted some of the feedback on the site).

The bottom line is this:

Just because there are currently a small number of wild animals in circuses doesn’t mean we should ignore them. The ‘cage to stage’ process as one reader so eloquently put it, is not a life we should subject animals to. And it seems that the public are demonstrating their distain by staying away, despite the 2 for 1, half price and free ticket promotions used by some circuses to try and bring in the punters.

While (sadly) there are some MPS who seem unwilling to represent the view of the electorate on this issue – whatever happened to conviction politics – there are many who firmly believe, as I do, that there is no alternative to a prohibition. That’s what 80% of the general public say. Of course you can ,as one reader suggests, get a very different picture depending on who you are: if you ask people going to a circus with animals if they like animal acts, unsurprisingly most say yes!

If you decide to write to your MP about circuses – don’t forget to let me have a copy of the response. I am convinced that this issue can be brought to a logical, compassionate and just solution when MPs of all parties hear the voice of the people!

And thank you to all who have written in – whatever your opinion.

Blogging off


Sad Saturday

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Dear Friends

Well, I can think of better things to do but the Great British Circus with its lions, tigers, camels and llamas came to within a few miles of the Born Free offices in Horsham and so, last Saturday, I went to take a look.

It was the 5 pm performance and the Big Top was half-empty. Personally I thought it was a sad and depressing experience, not a lot of fun and not a lot of laughter. The one quality human act, a juggler called Gordon, was the only performance that really got people cheering. The tigers sat on their stools, rolled over on their backs, jumped through hoops and then left the ring. It was short and not particularly sweet.

Afterwards, I paid the extra £1 and went round the back. In their beast-wagons (although I am told by Jeff Link, a representative of the Great British Circus, that they should be called “homes”) the tigers and lions were eating and nearby was their “free-association enclosure” – or as we would call it an exercise cage – measuring about 25 ft by 25 ft.

It is hardly inspiring and certainly it is not a ‘crowd-puller’.

And it makes me more determined than ever to work with the many Members of Parliament and the millions of people around the country who feel, as I do, that wild animals in particular, should not be in circuses. I saw little that could possibly be regarded as educational. I saw nothing that persuaded me this was contributing to endangered species conservation.

I saw a tired and lack-lustre spectacle, a throw-back to another era – an era that is well past its sell-by date.

Blogging off


Information on wild animals in UK circuses and what you can do

Lions at the circusBeastwagon

No excuse!

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Dear Friends

It is amazing what excuses people will conjure up when faced with the unacceptability of their behaviour.  Right now, the wildlife trophies of Houston billionaire, Dan Duncan, are on display in a Federal courthouse as the prosecution and defence consider what actually happened on a 2002 Russian hunting trip.  The prosecutors claim that the trophies festooned around the courthouse, were taken illegally – shot from helicopters, taken without permit and illegally imported into the US. 

Robert Kern of The Hunting Consortium, who owns the Company, is charged with knowingly importing trophies through Bush Intercontinental Airport in contravention of foreign law but it is the excuse of Tim Heaphy, the Virginia lawyer representing the defendants, that leaps out of this sorry story. 

Mr Heaphy is quoted as saying that “This was a charitable economic hunt — a meat-gathering excursion to feed villagers in a very impoverished, remote part of Russia”. Huh! Sorry?  You mean the hundreds and thousands of dollars that was spent travelling half-way around the world to shoot these animals was an act of charity??!

Russian law prohibits shooting from helicopters unless for economic purposes and therein lies the potential loophole – you can shoot the animals as long as you are providing economic help – never mind the ‘by-product’, the trophies!  I think we all know what the real purpose was.  I just hope that the prosecution proves it.

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