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, 17 April 2013

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

Mark Pritchard - Conservative MP for The Wrekin

"There are quite a few wild animals still being used in British circuses I think they are housed in cruel and cramped conditions and transported in similar conditions.Mark Pritchard MP

The above statement was made by MP Mark Pritchard on BBC local radio when being interviewed about the proposed draft legislation to ban wild animals in UK circuses by December 2015.

Pritchard has been an active campaigner against circuses for many years and he secured a debate in June 2011 to try and ban wild animals in UK circuses. 

Unfortunately, one would have hoped that by holding such strong opinions Pritchard would be keen to undertake some form of direct fact-finding examination of his beliefs in the above statement.  But, to the best of our knowledge, Mr Pritchard has not set foot in a contemporary circus to see how the animals are accommodated, transported or trained despite several invitations to do so by both circus proprietors and animal trainers.

Therefore, one asks: how can he make judgements about the health and welfare of these animals?  It seems sadly that he is happy to make a judgement based solely on the propaganda of various animal-rights groups that has been fed to him.

Moreover, many things that this MP states are open to question. A good example is the previously mentioned debate he initiated, on a ban of wild animals in the circus, back in June 2011.  Pritchard maintains this was a success, but in fact only about 17 MP's attended the debate - out of a total 650.  No vote was taken as so much discussion took place the motion passed without a vote.

Hardly the consensus that is often claimed.

Then we have the infamous claim parroted by Pritchard that 94.5% of the public want a ban on animals in the circus; this based on an online survey undertaken by DEFRA in a consultation in March 2010.  Survey result HERE.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, this was a self-report survey not an independent poll and these are known to be statistically worthless.  In addition to this, various animal-rights groups campaigning against circuses also produced pre-printed postcards for supporters to send to DEFRA further biasing any meaningful results.

To demonstrate the problem with such a survey the animal-rights lobby group Animal Defenders International commissioned polling company Ipsos MORI to undertake a Circus Animals Survey in September 2005 across Great Britain.
The results of this poll revealed of those questioned 65% (all animals) and 80% (wild animals only) wanted a ban.

Interestingly, when asked if for circus animals to perform effectively it is necessary to whip or beat them only 6% agreed with the statement and 90% disagreed.

A year later another poll by Ipsos MORI for the RSPCA was taken in Wales in September 2006. The results of this poll revealed of those questioned 76% agreed the use of wild animals in circuses should be banned with 10% disagreeing.  In the case of domestic animals 70% agreed and 14% disagreed on a ban.

Whilst in both polls a majority wish to see a ban on animals in circuses the results come nowhere near the 94.5% support stated.  But considering the huge amounts of money used for propaganda by animal-rights groups, against circuses over many years, it is no surprise that they have fooled so many members of the public into believing that circuses are by their nature cruel.  A position that is not supported by any empirical animal welfare research.

Animal in Circuses: Regulation Not Banning

Lies, Damn Lies and CAPS Leaflets

Animal In Zoos & Circuses

Peta vs Animals

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
Or follow us on Twitter: @RousterAstley
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