Dear Friends of Wildlife
It has taken a long time but we are about to win.
In 1996/97 Born Free participated in a Government Committee assessing the use of animals in circuses. Despite the work, and a decision to focus only on wild animals (so excluding domestic species such as horses and dogs) it did not result in and end to the use of animals in this way.
In 2004/06, we participated in a second Committee addressing the same issue.
In 2015, the Government has pledged to introduce legislation in The Queen’s Speech ending the use of wild animals in circuses in England.
What are the challenges that we have had to overcome?
The circus industry, staring into the abyss, wanted ‘better regulation’. Some parliamentarians wanted a ban for certain species of wild animal but not others. Thank goodness the Government decided to ban the use of all wild animals on ethical grounds.
This outstanding achievement has been as a result of the hard work of representatives from Born Free, the RSPCA, the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, the BVA and many other groups.
It is also a tribute to the determination of many members of the public, wildlife and animal welfare professionals, non-government organisations and parliamentarians who have stood up to be counted on this issue.
2015 marks a new chapter in society’s relationship with captive wild animals and will bring to an end, a form of wildlife exploitation that can no longer count on the support of the public at large.
However, what of the animals? I suspect that most of these animal acts (and there are only a handful) will depart for Europe where regulations are weak or non-existent. If any remain, the RSPCA and Born Free have pledged to assist DEFRA in finding them suitable lifetime care facilities for the rest of their lives.
As to the future, I would like to hear, loud and clear, that the other countries and regions of the United Kingdom (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) will join together and support the ban. I also want to see our campaign turn its attention to Europe and further afield so that, perhaps within my lifetime, we shall no longer be able to witness tigers jumping through hoops of fire and elephants standing on their hind-legs ‘for fun’.