7 June 2012
Categories: Homepage News, Zoo Check Campaign News
Animal protection charities’ urgent call to Government to rethink plans following release of withheld circus inspection report.
As Government considers plans to license circuses with wild animals in England, the release of a previously withheld inspection report highlights serious welfare concerns for animals and flaws in regulatory proposals.
One of Britain’s last travelling circuses with wild animals has taken the step of publishing the results of inspections of its premises undertaken as part of a Government-led “feasibility study” in 2008, following a decision that the information should be made available in the public domain.
The Great British Circus, which travels with tigers, lions, reindeer and camels, released the report following almost four years of refusal by both the circus itself and central government to disclose the findings. Animal protection organisations including the Born Free Foundation and the Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS) today expressed their alarm at the problems found, which included:
Born Free and CAPS are particularly concerned by these latest revelations since Government had recently indicated that circus inspections had not thrown up anything untoward. Indeed, the official Defra Impact Assessment, carried out as part of the recent Government consultation on licensing proposals, had indicated that circuses would need to make only minor improvements in order to meet the proposed standards.
Said Liz Tyson, Director of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society:
“The welfare concerns highlighted were numerous and varied; with tigers giving birth whilst on tour, individual animals being kept in solitary confinement for months on end and grazing animals being given no access to fields or pasture throughout the winter. On a number of occasions, the inspectors noted that standards witnessed would not be deemed acceptable in zoos. It really begs the question: How can Government justify its pursuit of a complex and expensive licensing system – even a temporary one – that will legitimise this archaic and unethical practice?”
Although significant animal welfare concerns were identified, the reports themselves also gave cause for concern:
“While we are not surprised by the animal welfare problems highlighted, we are amazed to see just how superficial the inspections and subsequent reports appear to be”, said Chris Draper, Animal Welfare Scientist for the Born Free Foundation. “The ambiguity and lack of detail in the reports calls into question the suitability of the inspectors to do the job properly. Moreover, it indicates that the Government’s plan to rely on an inspection and licensing regime for circuses with wild animals is flawed from the outset.”
The charities formally rejected the licensing proposals for wild animals in circuses during the public consultation period but have pledged to work with Government in order to move as quickly as possible towards an outright ban on wild animals in circuses. The Government have committed to introducing a ban when the Parliamentary calendar allows.