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

Join us on Facebook The WELFARE of Circus animals.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Captive Animals' Protection Society - CAPS

"A vegan organisation and a member of the animal-rights movement."

Founded in 1957 by retired Sussex schoolteacher the late Irene Heaton, the Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS) initially campaigned to end the use of animals in entertainment, primarily in the circus. Since that time, the group has extended its campaign to include banning animals used in zoos, films and television, sport and exotic pet keeping. CAPS became a registered charity in June 2008 (Reg. No.1124436).  

Its stated charitable activity is:
To promote humane behaviour towards, and prevent cruelty and suffering to, animals held in captivity. To educate the public to a sense of moral responsibility towards animals held in captivity. To undertake research activities in connection therewith, and publish results, and to provide relevant educational materials to the public.

Although its 2012 published account states:
To promote humane behaviour towards, and prevent cruelty and suffering to, animals held in captivity, particularly those in circuses, zoos and similar environments. To educate the public to a sense of moral responsibility in matters relating to the wellbeing of animals, particularly those in captivity, or likely to be in captivity. To undertake all relevant research activities in connection with animals in captivity, and to publish the results of such research, and to provide relevant educational materials to members of the public. To relieve the suffering of animals which are in need of care and attention.
On a recent posting on its Facebook page CAPS described itself more succinctly as:

"A vegan organisation and a member of the animal-rights movement."

CAPS current director is environmental law graduate Liz Tyson.  At this time its Trustees are listed as Graeme Wotherspoon (Chair), Beverly Garside and Craig Blyth who was appointed on 1 February 2001 and is also the Company Secretary. Martin Morgan and Anita Singh resigned as Trustees as of 23 January 2012. 

The groups Patrons include: politician Angela Smith; Sally Banks, wife of late MP Tony Banks; pop star Jay Kay; sportswomen Fiona Oakes; photographer Britta Jaschinski; human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell; art critic Brian Sewel; professor of English at Georgia State University Randy Malamud and evolutionary biologist Marc Bekoff. Bekoff is the only patron with any direct association with animal behaviour. CAPS at the time of writing still list Edgar Mann as a Patron although Dr Mann died in June 2013.

CAPS has working relationships with various animal-rights groups such as Animal Aid and other grass roots animal-rights factions such as Birmingham Animal Action.

The RSPCA gave three previous CAPS Directors awards for their work in animal protection, once again reinforcing a link between the RSPCA and the animal-rights movement. It should be noted that in the past, both Animal Aid and the RSPCA have retained the services of animal-rights activist Robin Webb; he was a director of Animal Aid and member of the ruling council of the RSPCA resigning the later after it was revealed that he ran the Animal Liberation Press Office in the UK.

Ronnie Lee - founder of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) - lists CAPS as a group that he supports in an interview in 2011.

CAPS also has a sister charity, the Captive Animals’ Protection Trust (CAPT) a registered charity (Reg. No. 1104400), founded in 2004 to educate on issues relating to the treatment of captive animals, particularly those held in circuses, zoos and the exotic pet trade.   Its Trustees are listed as Beverly Garside, Graeme Wotherspoon and Craig Blyth.

Among their accomplishments, CAPS cite the success they had in persuading Blackpool Tower Circus to ban the use of animals.  Jim and Marjorie Sutcliffe (two leading members of CAPS at the time) met with the then owner of the Blackpool Tower complex Lord Delfont of Trusthouse Forte Leisure in 1984 and he allegedly agreed a ban to be implemented in three years. 

However, despite this claim animal circuses did not cease at the Tower until the end of season 1990 when Peter Jay the producer of the circus' tenancy finished. Mr Jay then moved his circus, featuring animals, to Blackpool Pleasure Beach from 1991 to 1997. Since then, Blackpool Council has bought Blackpool Tower and employed the Merlin Entertainment Group to run the attraction.

CAPS most recent 'victory' is a claim that it persuaded the Manchester Centre not to undertake its plans to display two reindeer at its 2013 Christmas Fair.  A mean-spirited action preventing the enjoyment of visitors, who will now not be able to see these animals.  CAPS could provide no compelling reason why the display would cause the animals in question any welfare problems, at all.

However, this clearly demonstrates CAPS unreasoning commitment and zeal to the political aspirations of the animal-rights movement and its dogma against human use of animals for any reason.

Nonetheless, CAPS have some notable failures. The most recent was the campaign to stop the building of a Sealife Centre (ironically owned by the above-cited Merlin Entertainment Group), in the Trafford Centre, Manchester.

Despite the societies office being in Salford they achieved very little support aside from an animal-rights supporting, cosmetics company Lush, who have an outlet in the Trafford Centre. The aquarium planning was approved by the local council and it opened in the summer of 2013.


CAPS is primarily funded by individual donations and legacies. As of 2010, its reserves are held in its sister charity the Captive Animals Protection Trust (CAPT) and in that same year CAPT donated £50,000 to CAPS. The two charities have a policy that tries to ensure combined reserves do not fall below 6 months essential running costs, set at £50,362 according to its 2011 accounts. 

The Captive Animal Protection Society (CAPS) Accounts 2011

CAPT's returns for years 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were not published by the Charity Commission because they fell below its Annual Return £10,000 threshold for those financial years.

Captive Animals Protection Trust (CAPT) Accounts 2008.
In CAPT's only submitted accounts to the Charity Commission in October 2008 it stated that it is hoped that the trust's sister organisation CAPS would be merged with CAPT making one body.  This has yet to happen.


The Charity Commission

Lies, Damn Lies and CAPS Leaflets by Anna Webb

The Future is Orange?

Who wants to CAP the fun at the Olympics?

CAPS Not As Expert As They Think 

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

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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