Last week, the Senedd Cymru Welsh Parliament passed a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, joining England and Scotland. The Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Act comes into force on December 1st, 2020, when it will be illegal to have performing: elephants, lions, tigers, bears, and other wild animals anywhere in mainland Britain.
Members of the Senedd voted 53-0 in favor of passing the ban.
“Never again will we see lions and tigers hauled around the country on the backs of trucks, elephants forced to live in chains, and wild animals beaten to perform tricks in the name of entertainment,” Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International (ADI) said in a statement. “Today the curtain finally comes down on more than a century of suffering in Britain.”
Wales becomes the 47th country to pass an animal circus ban, which means almost a quarter of the world’s nations have now passed such bans. In January, 2020, Animal Defenders International completed an 18-month effort to empty circuses in Guatemala after the country banned all animal acts.
The last of Guatemala’s circus animals, 17 tigers and lions, were airlifted from Guatemala to the ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa.
Britain is credited as being the birthplace of the modern circus and 25 years ago, had one of the most powerful circus industries in the world, supplying thousands of animals to circuses worldwide.
Then, at the turn of the century, Britain became the center of the campaign that would change public perceptions of animal circuses around the world forever.
A two-year undercover investigation by ADI used hidden cameras to expose the sordid world behind the scenes of the British and European circus industry: animals living in deprived conditions and savage beatings.
The public turned away in droves, the biggest figure in the circus industry, Mary Chipperfield, was convicted of cruelty and the majority of British circuses went animal free.
But the politicians were slow to react and the misery continued for the circus animals. Elephants at the Great British Circus were filmed being beaten with metal bars and tortured by having their tails twisted.
The sustained beating and kicking of Anne the elephant as she stood helplessly chained to the ground caused national outrage.
More recent ADI investigations, at the winter quarters of Peter Jolly’s Circus were documented by ADI. They found appalling overcrowding, fighting between animals, and a worker tormenting a camel.
Observations of the lions and tigers owned by Thomas Chipperfield, who previously toured Wales, were filmed living caged on the back of a truck.
An expert report commissioned by the Welsh Government states that “Life for wild animals in traveling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living.’”
Ninety-seven percent of respondents to a public consultation conducted by the Welsh Government before the bill was introduced agreed that it should be made an offense for a wild animal to be used in a traveling circus. The same number also believed a ban would have a positive impact on attitudes of children and young people towards animals.
ADI has offered, if needed, to assist with the relocation of animals affected by the legislation and has previously worked with the governments of Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Guatemala to enforce bans where circuses have defied the law, rescuing almost 200 animals from circuses around the world.
The ADI Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa has 455 acres which is currently home to 42 lions and tigers that were rescued as circuses were closed down in Peru, Colombia, and Guatemala.