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"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, 13 February 2013

This all sounds rather prestigious and grand, but what is the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics?


The captive animals' protection society (CAPS) - the UK based charity who states that it aims to end the use of all animals not just in circuses but also in zoos and the exotic pet trade - has never been shy when it comes to self-aggrandisement.  Recently it proudly boasted on its Facebook page that CAPS Director, Liz Tyson had been offered the role as an Associate Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

The centre’s stated aim is ... "to create a world-wide association of academics from all disciplines who want to pioneer ethical perspectives on animals. We intend to create a new intellectual force – a select Fellowship – composed of accomplished academics able to make the ethical case for animals. Appointment to the Fellowship is by nomination or invitation only and involves a rigorous selection process. We are, therefore, very proud that a member of our team has been invited to take part in the centre's groundbreaking work..."

This all sounds rather prestigious and grand until you look a little more deeply into who, or what, is the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics?

Firstly, the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics is not affiliated to any of the Oxford universities, it is a private organisation founded in 2006.  Secondly, its founder Professor Andrew Linzey is a professor of Theology, not Biology.   He is well known for his support of the animal-rights movement, which is an ideological and political position.  

Linzey has written extensively on the subject of animal-rights particularly from a Judeo-Christian point of view.  He has collaborated in a number of publications with Tom Regan,a well known American promoter of animal-rights.  

He has debated against such people as Biologist Professor Steven Rose: a supporter of animal-welfare, but not animal-rights.

Rose once stated, in regards to animal-rights:

Linzey's views have consistently courted controversy.  In 2003, during the debate to ban hunting, he was quoted in The Guardian newspaper as saying that hunting was morally equivalent to rape, child abuse and torture.   Later in 2011, he declared that Christian attitudes to animals were 'akin to sexism and racism' and from an editorial in the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics in-house publication The Journal of Animal Ethics.  He was quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying:

“Despite its prevalence, ‘pets’ is surely a derogatory term both of the animals concerned and their human carers...Again the word ‘owners’, whilst technically correct in law, harks back to a previous age when animals were regarded as just that: property, machines or things to use without moral constraint....We invite authors to use the words ‘free-living’, ‘free-ranging’ or ‘free-roaming’ rather than ‘wild animals’..."

Therefore, with this in mind, it would seem that the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics is basically an animal-rights, not an animal-welfare organisation and it is hardly surprising that they would invite a fellow traveller such as Liz Tyson of CAPS along for the ride.

Astley's Legacy was formed to counter the misinformation and propaganda spread by animal rights activists. As well as fighting the corner for circus animals and their trainers, we are here to promote and celebrate the cultural heritage of circus in general, and especially in the country of its birth - Great Britain. For more information please see our Facebook group
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