24 Jun 2011

Circus vote win!

Yesterday evening, MPs voted to back a ban on circus animal cruelty.
It was very close. The government tried to stop the vote from taking place by bullying MPs to toe the line. One of the MPs who called the vote, Mark Pritchard MP, was offered a government job if he backed down and then said he was threatened when he refused.

The vote brings us closer to stopping wild animals suffering in British circuses - but there's a risk the government will try to block a ban coming into force.

Only a handful of circuses in England keep wild animals which includes any non-domestic species, such as tigers, zebras and camels - the RSPCA estimates 46 such animals are currently used in circus performance in the UK. Nearly 3 out of 4 British citizens favour a ban.

The government have claimed that a ban would risk a legal challenge, but Greens have argued that this is little more than an excuse, with no evidence forthcoming to back up the position.  During an earlier parliamentary debate on 8th June, Caroline Lucas MP highlighted that the government was given similar legal advice on banning the import of cat, dog and seal fur, yet when other governments challenged similar legal advice they found that they could implement bans.

It is clear that these majestic animals do not belong in circuses in inadequate enclosures and many suffering from inappropriate, sometimes cruel, training techniques and performing routines. It is great this has got through this stage - but there si much to do and bigger battles like factory farming....and I can't help but have real concerns about this Government's commitment to animal welfare  - question marks for example still remain over the government's position on the badger cull and its stated intention to call a vote on hunting with hounds.

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