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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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Public Opinion: What Happened to 94.5 per cent?

A recent YouGov poll states: "Britons think that wild animals in circuses should be a thing of the past".  Whereas this should read: "Britons show a drop in opposition to animals in circuses"

The YouGov polling organisation recently published a poll on the use of wild animals in circuses.  This comes on the back of the introduction of new animal welfare regulations for wild animals in UK circuses in 2012 with proscribed species standards, inspection and licensing.  It is also connected to a muted ban on all wild animals in circuses by 2015.  This total ban has since been the subject of suggested amendments that would see the banning of animals such as big cats or elephants but not all wild animals such as zebra.

This new poll was reported with predictable glee by the now standard list of animal-rights groups such as Animal Defenders International (ADI), the Captive Animal Protection Society (CAPS) and the RSPCA.

However, a closer look at this poll reveals something very interesting.

The list is species specific and ranges from bears to parrots although omits popular circus animals such a sea lions.  The poll suggests that of the 1955 people asked 81% thought that bears should be banned dropping to 48% thinking pet animals such as parrots should be banned. 

Full Poll Data HERE

Compared with a poll by MORI commissioned in 2005 by ADI, the new poll actually appears to suggest that public attitudes to animals in circuses have, in fact, not hardened despite the case of Anne the elephant and remain very much unchanged.

The 2005 poll revealed that of people asked 60% agreed and 25% disagreed with the statement that all performing animals should be banned.   To a further question, 80% agreed and 15% disagreed that all wild performing animals should be banned.  There was no segregation of species in this poll.

Whilst the 2013 YouGov poll segregates animals into 9 species, if one creates an average of these totals is can be seen that as a group 69.6% believe all wild animals should be banned from circuses against 19.6% who do not agree.  This compares against the 80% agreed and 15% disagreeing in the recent 2005 MORI poll.

So what does this mean?  As stated above, despite the huge amounts of propaganda generated by animal-rights groups the polls suggest that attitudes towards animals in circuses have not changed dramatically.  More so, that if one looks at the combined 2013 figures of 69.6% for banning wild animals this is a drop from the 80% reported in 2005 MORI poll.

In any event, one thing is for certain, the two cited surveys make a mockery of the claims that 94.5% of the public are in favour a banning of animals in circuses as reported in a DEFRA survey in 2010. A survey that is still being quoted by politicians and even today by animal-rights groups such as CAPS, ADI and the RSPCA who knew full well this was not the case and the DEFRA self-report survey was statistically worthless.

Finally, the strap line for the most recent YouGov poll states: "Britons think that wild animals in circuses should be a thing of the past".  Whereas this should really read: "Britons show a drop in opposition to animals in circuses".

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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