The question to ask is why it appears the government is seeking out the prohibition of some 'wild' animals in circuses whilst appearing not to apply the same rules to the same animals use in other public entertainment and leisure events.As some will know, the UK government has brought forward a proposed bill to ban all wild animals from UK circuses from 2015. As a provisional measure in December 2012, it introduced a codified welfare inspection and licensing system for all circuses displaying wild animals. Currently two British circuses hold such licenses.
Despite the fact, that even in its latest response to consultation the government states within the first paragraphs that:
"...the Government's position that there remains insufficient evidence, in line with the findings of the 2007 'Radford Report', for a ban on welfare grounds."It still plans to go ahead with the proposed ban.
It also rejects a suggested amendment that, while a ban on all big cat species and elephants would proceed, a proscribed list of animals that could be consider, 'wild' (such as snakes, camels, zebras or racoons) would still be allowed in travelling circuses. They rejected this amendment stating:
"The arguments that the Government has put forward in support of the proposed ban do not appear to lead to the conclusion that it is still acceptable to still use some species of wild animal but not others. The issue that the Government has been asked to address is not the number of wild animals used in travelling circuses, nor their species, but the fact that they are used at all."So there we have it. The government is effectively saying that, despite accepting the scientific evidence showing that there is no reason to ban on welfare grounds, they think it is completely acceptable to ban all wild animals just because they do not like wild animals in circuses; a judgement based on aesthetics and nothing at all to do with welfare.
In fact, this is confirmed by a further statement:
"The Committee highlighted the important difference between the scope of the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012 and the draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill. For purposes of inspection, the Regulations need to take in all places, such as winter quarters, where a wild animal belonging to the circus might be kept. The scope of the draft Bill is quite different, in that it is focuses solely on prohibiting the use, in performance or exhibition, of wild animals in a travelling circus. The purpose of the Bill is not to prohibit the ownership of wild animals by circus operators."Therefore, this would allow a circus if it desired to keep its wild animals within the travelling circus provided that they are not exhibited. A situation which makes a mockery of any ban and clearly shows that such a ban is the government dictating what is or is not acceptable, based purely on personal taste and in support of the ideologies of animal-rights not animal-welfare.
They go on to say as regards domestic and wild animals:
"Whether or not an animal is domesticated in another part of the world is not relevant to the situation in England. Asian elephants, for example, are regarded as domesticated in India but no one seriously suggests that they be regarded as commonly domesticated in Great Britain. A zoo that only contained Asian elephants would clearly be captured by the Zoo Licensing Act 1981. Whether or not the animal is domesticated in Great Britain will usually be a simple question to answer, especially for those species typically associated with travelling circuses."I think it can be fairly stated that domestication is domestication and cannot be linked to geography and the government seriously needs to consider what it is saying.
However, the government really have missed the point. At no time did the consultative Committee suggest that elephants would appear in their list of 'approved wild animals' as they specifically stated that these and big cat species would be banned in any event. What they suggested is that animals which are commonly kept (in many cases without any form of license) such as small Camelids, racoons, snakes and so forth should not be banned from circuses. The question to ask is “are llamas domesticated? What about a racoon, or a racoon dog?"
What we now have is a situation where many animals could be kept, trained, transported and displayed in public events but excluded from circus performance because they are deemed 'wild' by ambiguous and vague classification.
The question to ask is why it appears the government is seeking out the prohibition of some 'wild' animals in circuses whilst appearing not to apply the same rules to the same animals use in other public entertainment and leisure events.
Okay on Britain's Got Talent but banned from the circus ring!
The government erroneously seems to think that the definition of wild animal is well described. Unfortunately, this is just wishful thinking and anomalies already exist when comparing The Dangerous Wild Animals Act and The Zoo Licensing Act.
In its desperate desire to find a stated 'ethical' way to ban wild animals in circuses and placate the extremely vocal animal-rights industry, the government itself has been far from either logical, or ethical. It further appears that in its targeting of circus animal performance (to the exclusion of other similar animal enterprises) the government is demonstrating nothing more than pure discrimination.
Wild Animals in Circuses. Fourth Report of Session 2013–14. Conclusions and Recommendations
Wild Animals in Circuses. Fourth Report of Session 2013–14. Government Response
Conclusions for the RSPCA's Independent Scientific Investigation into Animals in Circuses and Zoos by Dr Marthe Kiley Worthington
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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/223570581049199
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