Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Animals in circuses! Has the Sun Gone Green?


"Circuses are licensed by central government. If you wish to see why and how they are licensed go to the Defra website"

The U.K.'s largest circulation tabloid daily newspaper The Sun could hardly be called a paper that supports the lunatic fringe of the left such as The Green Party. 

However, in a recent article penned by "animal welfare campaigner" Stanley Johnson demonstrates just how this newspaper is not familiar with the tactics of the animal-rights lobbyists. In this instance, the puppet masters are Animal Defenders International (ADI) a group well-known for its manipulation of well-meaning but gullible animal-loving celebrities such as Brian Blessed. Moreover it is no surprise that the appearance of this feature article comes a day before ADI are due yet again to visit 10 Downing Street for yet another celebrity led photo opportunity in its bid to try and ban animals in circuses in Britain.

Johnson's article follows a predictable pattern of hyperbole and inaccuracy as regards the treatment of animals in British circuses - clearly spoon-fed by the spin and propaganda from groups such as Animal Defenders International (ADI).

Hidden away in amongst all this rhetoric is a very small statement from one of the circuses highlighted by Stanley Johnson namely Circus Mondao.  The circus makes one of the few irrefutable and honest statements amongst Johnson's diatribe in stating that:
"Circuses are licensed by central government. If you wish to see why and how they are licensed go to the Defra website"
Of course, this will be lost on readers of this article because The Sun (which was happy to supply a web link to the animal-rights groups' web site) did not feel the need to supply any form of link or further information regarding circus licensing displayed on the DEFRA website which would have debunked many of the accusations made in Johnson's feature.

To read Johnson's piece one would think there was no form of legal framework that requires any kind of standards of animal welfare for animals travelling in circuses in Britain. However, this is far from the case.

In December 2012 the British government introduced specific animal welfare regulations for all wild animals travelling in British circuses. These regulations required circuses to be inspected by qualified DEFRA vets and if they could provide the standards required they would be licensed to use animals in a circus environment. All circuses operating within Britain from that date have been inspected and licensed.

So many of the things stated in this article by Johnson are categorically misleading or false.
First, the claim that: 
"these majestic animals spend their lives on the back of a lorry regardless of whether they are on the road or not" 
This statement is absolute nonsense. And an inspection of detailed regulations regarding the transport and accommodation of circus animals in the above cited Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012 would reveal this not to be the case. Anyone dealing with animals in travelling circus - as alleged by Johnson's claims - would not pass an inspection and would not receive licensing to operate.

Second, Johnson goes on to claim that:
"there are presently no measures in place to stop elephants – or bears and rhinos, who have toured here before – from being shipped from the continent to perform in Britain".
However, this again is not true. Anyone with animals that wish to perform in a British circus (regardless of where they come from) will be subject to exactly the same regulations as stated above.

There are no exemptions and it is clear that Stanley Johnson has neither read (or clearly does not understand) the current legal obligations that now exist in British law as regards the welfare of circus animals.

It is indeed true that the British government has considered banning wild animals in British circuses. Nevertheless, they themselves have admitted that the scientific evidence does not support a ban on animals basedon welfare grounds – the most recent being the 2007 DEFRA report into circus animal welfare. They have been very clear on this fact even to the extent of having a Minister make an open statement in Parliament regarding this matter.
      "...The 2007 Radford Report on circus animals concluded that there was insufficient scientific evidence to demonstrate that travelling circuses are unable to meet the welfare needs of wild animals presently being used in the United Kingdom. That position has not changed. Consequently, we are now looking at the means by which a ban could be introduced on ethical ground..."
WRITTEN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT. Minister of State for Agriculture and Food (James Paice) 1 March 2012
The recent publicity given by the animal-rights lobby regarding a private bill being introduced into Parliament to supersede the currently stalled government ban is also mis-reported.  The article states that only one member of Parliament has blocked this private  Bill whereas there have been at least three members of Parliament blocking this motion namely MP's Andrew Rosindell, Philip Davies as well as Christopher Chope.

Unfortunately, it appears that this article is nothing more than an advertising feature for Animal Defenders International latest animal-rights campaign fronted by a rather foolish Stanley Johnson who really should have done his own research into this matter.

Further Reading