21 August 2012
According to an article in Horse & Hound, (21st August 2012) Martin Lacey who runs the Great British Circus – one of the biggest in the country - has decided to close because of the Government’s intention to ban the use of wild animals in circuses by 2015. Mr Lacey is quoted as saying “I am 70 this year and so have decided to finish now”.
It is reported that he is looking to sell some of his exotic animals, including a zebra and his camels. The future of other species that have recently performed in his circus, such as his tigers, is unclear.
Animal welfare organisations that have long campaigned to end the exploitation of wild animals in circuses, including the Born Free Foundation, the RSPCA, The Captive Animals’ Protection Society and the British Veterinary Association, warmly welcomed the news of the closure but expressed concern that the high-value acts, such as the tigers, may now be moved abroad, thereby escaping the impending ban.
They called on the Government to abandon its plans for a temporary licencing system – regarded by many as a pointless and expensive white elephant – and to move swiftly to secure Parliamentary time for the introduction of Primary Legislation to end the use of wild animals in circuses in England once and for all.
Once the closure of the Great British Circus is complete, it is thought that the two circuses that remain in operation with a handful of wild animals will consider closing too. The welfare groups have offered to develop a rehoming and retirement strategy, in conjunction with Defra, and the Born Free Foundation and RSPCA wrote recently to all the circuses directly offering to assist with rehoming their animals.
An end to the exploitation of wild animals in circuses enjoys widespread public and Parliamentary support with more than nine out of ten respondents to a 2010 public consultation, undertaken by the previous administration, supporting a ban.