“Palpitating pageant of pachyderms, pulchritude and pantomime! Extraordinary wild animal exploits! Desperately dangerous displays of unrivalled aerialism! Colossally comic comedians! Dainty and dexterous displays of principal bareback equitation!”
Oh, the language of the circus!
Ballyhoo, bravado and exaggeration are stretched to linguistic limits with alliterative phrase heaped upon alliterative phrase until the words are as poetic as the movements of any daring young man, or woman, on the flying trapeze.
Christmas is a busy time for the travelling circus, expectant families to be entertained, animals to be cared for, homes to be uprooted and repositioned hundreds of miles away overnight. So little surprise that as soon as Christmas is over, both circus actors and animals take a well earned winter break, and have no contact with their appreciative audiences until around Easter time.
Thus it will come as no surprise to you either, that December 21st to March 15th was precisely the ludicrously short period of time that DEFRA gave both sides in the ‘are circuses cruel’ debate to submit their views to a government committee determined to spend our tax payer pounds on regulating yet something else.
The effect of choosing this period of time can be seen in the governments own admission that the 12,907 responses out of a total population of 60 million in the UK, broke down as follows.
2,231 postcards – which were part of a campaign by ‘an’ animal welfare organisation – and which consisted of ‘some’ of the questions posed. Nothing quite like selective polling….
9,390 electronic responses to the on-line questionnaire, which members of the circus audience would have been entirely unaware of, since the circuses would have had no contact with them during this period.
I am reminded of the university ‘poll’ which posed the question ‘should the café be non-smoking’ to the entire user base of the university café on Christmas Eve – no students present, merely the Mother and Baby Toddler group having their annual chin wag – not surprisingly they claimed 100% of those polled wanted the café non-smoking, and non-smoking it was!
As if this wasn’t enough, the questions were so loaded as to be obscene.
Do you think that there are any species of wild animal which it is acceptable to use in travelling circuses?
Don’t know 1% (85 out of 9920 responses)
No 95.5% (9463 out of 9920 responses)
Yes 4% (372 out of 9920 responses)
Now that in itself is an interesting question for – suitably buried in the small print on a well hidden page – DEFRA makes clear that it was specifically excluding any question of the use of animals in circuses as entertainment, and was considering neither their performance nor their training:
Performance and training techniques were excluded as we considered that if any cruel practices were used in the training of animals it should be relatively straightforward to mount a prosecution for cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act.
So the question only relates to the fact that the animals were part of a ‘travelling’ circus, rather than being used as entertainment.
How many of the 9,390 on-line respondents were reacting to the notion of animals being used as entertainment and how many were correctly understanding that it was merely their transport that was complained about is open to conjecture – as is the number of those respondents who were encouraged to take part as a result of the many PETA organised campaign groups. My guess would be that the PETA encouraged participants accounted for the 9463 who said NO…..
You might imagine from all this activity, committees, academics submitting reports, and postcard campaigns, that this is a huge problem.
If so, you will be bewildered to learn that there are only 4, I repeat 4, circuses left that use non-domesticated animals. They are:
The Great British Circus with a grand total of 1 Kangaroo, 2 Llamas, 4 Reindeer, 5 Lions, 7 Tigers. 7 Camels, and one lone Zebra.
Bobby Robert’s Super Circus who only possess 1 Elephant (touring, but retired from performance) and 1 camel.
Circus Mondao with 3 Zebras, 2 Llamas, and thinking of acquiring 2 Camels…
And last but not least, Jollys’ Circus with 2 crocodiles, 1 Zebra,1 Ankole, 1 Llama and 6 Snakes….
Labour have already passed the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which prevents unnecessary cruelty or suffering to any vertebrate animal. It is a ‘common informers’ Act, which means that anyone can make a complaint which would lead to prosecution. In addition, it introduced a new ‘duty of care’ for any animal under the control of man, which makes owners and keepers responsible for ensuring that the welfare needs of their animals are met. This duty applies to animals kept in circuses just as to pets, farmed animals and other domestic and companion animals.
There are also extensive rules and regulations about transporting any animal – if there were not I should have a 100 squealing pigs with ‘MP’ stamped on their rump, trailing Old Holborn round Cambridge – but illegal, unfortunately.
None of this is sufficient to satisfy the zealots at PETA and the other Peter Springer inspired Animal Rights groups – they have lobbied the entire machinery of government to introduce new legislation in respect of those 4, repeat 4, circuses, and their habit of taking their animals with them as they move from place to place.
Thus, this morning we have the BBC proudly announcing a ministerial statement from Jim Fitzpatrick MP.
“Wild animals are set to be banned from circuses after a consultation found overwhelming concern by the public.”
The large number of responses that we have received is a testament to the interest that stakeholders and the general public have taken in this issue.
On the basis of the preliminary analysis that Defra’s animal welfare team have done on the responses received, I am minded to pursue a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England. Jim Fitzpatrick MP
The RSPCA piled in of course.
RSPCA wildlife scientist Dr Ros Clubb said: “Watching animals perform unnatural tricks also does nothing to educate the public or promote compassion for animals.”
But remember gentle reader – this was never about animals performing, it was about their inclusion in travelling circuses…….and any regulation or ban would only apply in England as animal welfare is a devolved matter.
Just as well it was not about animals performing, for also this morning we hear that in London Zoo, in the Bio-Dome (good marketing, like the Bio bit) the monkeys are to be released amongst the public by way of encouraging more visitors to the zoo – otherwise known as providing entertainment…….
“We want people to be immersed in the jungle as soon as they get off the bus,” said Mr Dobbs. “We are actually letting the animals come out and get close to the public. We think they will be happy running around when the public are in here.”
“It’s about inspiration.”
This is where the circuses went wrong. They should have re-named the Big-Top a Bio-Zone; the Ring master could have been a Facilitator; the clowns ‘Outreach Consultants’ communicating by sign language to a multi-cultural multi-lingual audience, the Lions and Tigers could have come out to celebrate Eid and Hajj in the traditional way by snatching a child or two for breakfast – maybe even a roaming DEFRA Minister throttled by a Boa Constrictor for good measure.
Dr Clubb would have been happy to see the animals performing natural tricks…..
All this nonsense brought to you courtesy of DEFRA, who yesterday announced that they had found ways of trimming £194 million off their tax payer funded budget! Since this has been announced post ‘cuts’, I cannot bear to think how else they were wasting money before.
- Tweets that mention DEFRA Ban wild animals in travelling circuses. — Topsy.com
- March 26, 2010 at 18:35