Your Guide to the Reality of Animal Circus

"The academic panel concluded that there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or worse than that of animals kept in other captive environments" - Executive Summary of the DEFRA Circus Working Group 2007

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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

No Dialogue - Just Dogma by Rouster

UPDATE: Mystery solved! Miss Cilly as "Th...Image by sanspareille69 via Flickr

 Despite a high profile propaganda exercise by the various animal-rights charities in the UK earlier this year the UK Government’s agency the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has decided that regulation and not a ban on wild animals in British circuses is the way forward. It is ironic to think that this is something the owners of British circuses have wanted for many years. 

However, in a press release on the 13 December 2011 it was revealed that a number of animal-rights (and pseudo-animal welfare) groups: the RSPCA, Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS), World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), One Kind and Four Paws have decided to boycott any future meetings regarding future licensing of wild animals in circuses.  Their position is clear. They wish a ban and nothing short of that will satisfy them.  Once again they cite dubious propaganda they themselves have been active in promoting to support their position.  See the critic on this blog re the post card campaign by CAPS regarding circuses.

It now becomes clear that these groups really have little interest in engaging in any real dialogue in this matter: they are right and the expert opinion of, for example, the only 18 month long-term study of circus animals in UK circuses by Dr Kiley-Worthington is wrong, which is ironic as it was in part funded by the RSPCA.  Nonetheless, one cannot be surprised at these actions as the ideology of these groups is primarily animal rights dogma and not animal welfare science. 

So who are these groups?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in 1824 and was the first animal welfare charity in the world.  It is considered by many members of the general public as the respectable face of animal-welfare.  However, this opinion is not shared by all.

Despite their superficial appearance, which was influenced by the style of the British police force, they have no more statutory powers of entry or arrest than a member of the public.  There has been a number of cases where inspectors of this organisation have entered premises illegally and seized animals.  As a result of this behaviour a number of help groups have been set-up opposed to the RSPCA.

Further controversy faced this charity in 2006 when a British court ruled that an animal-rights activist Robin Webb was a "central and pivotal figure" in the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).  Webb was a former member of the ruling council of the RSPCA and also the Press Office for the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).  This led to fears that the RSPCA had become infiltrated by animal rights supporters, a situation not helped in January 2009 when a former employee of the RSPCA Heather Nicholson was sentenced to 11 year imprisonment for her activities in ALF as part of the aggressive campaign against Huntington Life Sciences.

In February 1998 the RSPCA was ordered to remove text from promotional material by The Charity Commission which, in part, stated:

"We (the RSPCA)do not accept that a difference in species alone (any more than a difference in race) can justify wanton exploitation or oppression in the name of science or sport, or for use as food, for commercial profit or for other human gain."
The Commission pointed out that the RSPCA can not to "pursue policies which, while benefiting animals, would have a detrimental effect on human kind". Being anti-human, of course, is an overt trait of animal rights philosophy.

BBC news story linked HERE


This celebrity-based animal rights charity was set-up in 1984 under the title "Zoo Check" by actors Virginia McKenna and her husband the late Bill Travers. It later became known as the Born Free Foundation (BFF).  The two actors were famous for portraying Joy Adamson and her husband, George, in the film “Born Free”,  the true story of the couple's attempts to rehabilitate a orphaned lion Elsa.  A project vaulted by many as a success, although this is not a view held by a number naturalists and those familiar with the management of African wildlife. 

The BFF foundation courted controversy in early 1991 when they, along with various animal-rights partners, obtained three former long-term captive bottlenose dolphins from aquaria in the UK and transported them to a conch farm lagoon in the Turks and Caicos Islands . The project was named Into The Blue .  The animals were released from a sea-pen off West Caicos in September 1991.  Due to no systematic post-release monitoring the fate of the animals remain unclear.  One animal “Silver” appears to have become ill with an infection and was fed antibiotics in fish post-release.  The BBC produced a documentary on the project in a series of films called called The Wildlife Show which, when shown, was subject to an official complaint to the then Broadcasting Complaints Commission. The complaint held that the text and images in the programme were emotive, inaccurate or misleading. The Commission found that the programme was unfair in this respect in six of the twelve instances brought by the complainants. The documentary has since never been shown on television again despite repeats of other programmes in The Wildlife Show case strand.

Founded in 1957 by retired school teacher Irene Heaton, it was initially a group opposed to animals in circuses, but has now changed it campaigns to also include zoos and public aquaria (which it thinks should all be phased out) as well as the exotic pet trade.  CAPS became a registered charity in 2008. See the earlier link regarding the huge amount of misinformation they give out regarding circuses and the depths they are willing to sink in order to get cheap attention.

WSPA resulted from the merger of two animal welfare organizations in 1981, namely the World Federation for the Protection of Animals (WFPA) founded in 1953 and the International Society for the Protection of Animals (ISPA) founded in 1959.  It is a registered charity in the UK with 13 offices located internationally. All branches of World Society for the Protection of Animals belong to HSUS (Humane Society of the United States).

This is an Edinburgh based animal rights group formed in 1911 with the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Vivisection.  It was re-branded in 1991 as Advocates for Animals with various campaigns and objectives, it recently commented negatively about Edinburgh’s Zoo’s display of pandas

Dr Jane Goodall was the president of Advocates for Animals from 1998 until 2008. However in May of that year, she described Edinburgh Zoo's new primate enclosure as a "wonderful facility" where monkeys "are probably better off [than] living in the wild in an area like Budongo, where one in six gets caught in a wire snare, and countries like Congo, where chimpanzees, monkeys and gorillas are shot for food commercially." This is in conflict with Advocates for Animals' position on captive animals, who stated "She's entitled to her opinion, but our position isn't going to change. We oppose the keeping of animals in captivity for entertainment." In June 2008 Goodall confirmed that she had resigned the presidency of the organisation, citing her busy schedule and explaining, "I just don't have time for them."

Advocates for Animals' celebrity supporters include Paul O’Grady, Alesha Dixon, Benjamin Zephaniah and Johnny Vegas. It should be mentioned that despite their support for this animal rights group that openly opposes the use of animal in entertainment, Vegas and O'Grady have regularly worked on shows, like "Shooting Stars" and "The Paul O'Grady Show" that regularly feature trained wild animals (including primates). 


It was founded on 4 March 1988 by Helmut Dungler in Vienna with offices in  Germany, Switzerland , the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Romania, Great Britain, Hungary, Belgium and South Africa and Boston (USA ).

In 2010, former employees accused the Swiss section of the inefficiency and lack of organization and alleged that too much money was being allotted to advertising campaigns and not to actual animal welfare projects. This is a common complaint against animal rights groups. The HSUS (Humane Society for the United States), for example, was recently criticized for putting less than 1% into practical animal welfare support like shelters.

Recently Four Paws were involved  with other animal rights supporters in trying to obtain the rescued young killer whale "Morgan" (who was nursed back to health by Harderwijk Dolfinarium) for an ill-conceived wild release project.  This was fortunately blocked by a Dutch judge who, when reviewing the evidence, decided that this animal would be better being transferred to Loro Parque in Tenerife to join a group of captive bred killer whales as it's chances of surviving a release experiment were slim.

So, there is the low-down on the groups that have chosen to boycott the approved legal way forward to handle animal circuses. Rouster contends that far from being concerned animal welfarists or protectors of animals, these groups are pursuing a radical philosophical agenda that does not best serve human beings. Furthermore, their activities are often more about raising funds and courting celebrity appeal than actually initiating practical projects to improve the lives of animals.

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