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, 28 October 2015

Rouster’s Continuing List of Hypocritical Celebrities - Roger Moore

Recently, Rouster continued their intermittent exploration of celebrities who could be described as hypocrites. These are individuals who have no issue decrying the use of trained animals in circuses and other entertainment yet are quite happy to have their talents used in film and television productions that feature not only trained animals but animals that may have been trained by circus animal trainers.
With the opening of the latest James Bond epic "Spectre" perhaps it would be appropriate to examine the film and television career of yet another celebrity hypocrite, former James Bond actor Roger Moore.

Moore has been a recent consistent advocate of the banning of animals in circuses and in 2014 took part in a media campaign for Animal Defenders International (ADI) writing to the Queen to urge her to include a commitment to a wild animal circus ban in her speech at the State Opening of Parliament on 4th June.

It interesting to note that near the beginning of Moore's long and successful career the RADA dropout was immediately put literally on top of trained animals (in this instance trained horses) in the 1958 television series "Ivanhoe" – based very loosely on the character by author Sir Walter Scott.

But perhaps it's in his 12 year role as James Bond that Roger Moore involved himself in scenarios involving quite a number of wild tamed or trained animals. 

In his first outing as Bond in the 1973 film "Live and Let Die" there is a sequence of events at a crocodile/alligator farm set in Jamaica. Many people believe that this sequence involved a large number of model and animatronic reptiles. However it did not. The scenes were filmed in a tourist attraction the Jamaica Swamp Safari Village and the animal stunts were performed by the parks owner and animal trainer Ross Kananga

Ross Kananga with his leopards Angel & Satan, circa 1974

Roger Moore relaxes on set with animal-trainer Ross Kananga.  MIB-HQ.COM

However, perhaps Roger Moore's most stark example of hypocrisy was his penultimate role as James Bond in the 1983 film "Octopussy". A major part of the film's plot involved a circus. The circus acts and trained animals were provided by Chipperfield's Circus, a regular target of Moore's old friend, Virginia McKenna. Besides showing scenes of traditional wild animal acts where Moore is present,
he is also in a scene with a trained chimpanzee and animal trainer, Hino Wieshoff. Bond also confrontats a tiger where he parodies the television animal trainer Barbara Woodhouse and could not have been achieved without the expertise of the well known circus dynasty. The tiger in question was raised and trained by members of the family.

Not long before Moore jumped on the celebrity anti-animal circus bandwagon, the actor wrote his autobiography, "My Word is my Bond", where animals crop up quite a lot. From the perspective of anyone involved in the training of animals for entertainment and eduction, Moore's position throughout the book reads like an exercise in cognitive dissonance. The actor speaks of an emotive incident in his childhood where he killed a squirrel, inspiring him to abhor the practice of animal hunting. He later talks about his friendship with Born Free Foundation founder and anti-animal circus/zoo campaigner Virginia McKenna and her second husband, Bill Travers, remarking favourably upon their work.

However, Moore then decides to tell us about an episode on set featuring a group of domestic cats. According to Moore, it was decided that cats were to be drugged in order to be docile enough for the scenes that they featured. The cats were not supplied by anyone in the circus industry or the established film animal training industry known to our contacts, which leads us to believe that they might have been supplied by amateurs. The widespread drugging of animals for entertainment is something of a semi-myth in modern animal training. The ACTA (Animal Consultants and Trainers Association), the UK's largest and longest established trade association for animals is opposed to its practice and has it in their guidelines. Just about any respectable animal trainer would agree with its utter prohibition. Yet hunt-hating, Born Free Foundation supporting and now anti-animal circus campaigning Moore finds the whole episode to be an amusing anecdote. Not only does Moore admit being complicit in this action, but he confesses to keeping the whole procedure quiet from his co-star.

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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