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Sir Roger Moore and Imelda Staunton OBE urge Queen to ensure wild animal circus ban is passed swiftly

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: May 29, 2014

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Honoured and award-winning actors Sir Roger Moore KBE, best known as James Bond, and Imelda Staunton OBE, who stars in new Disney film Maleficent which is released today, have joined Animal Defenders International’s (ADI) Stop Circus Suffering campaign by 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.

Sir Roger and Imelda’s letter raises concerns that, despite Government promises, action to bring a ban on wild animals in circuses into law has been slow. Having been honoured by the Queen, they are now urging Her Majesty to include the ban in her speech at the State Opening of Parliament in order to ensure that wild animals do not continue to suffer in British circuses.

Last month, David Cameron reaffirmed his commitment to ban wild animal acts to an ADI delegation headed by former Conservative MEP and conservationist Stanley Johnson, and social justice campaigner Peter Tatchell, when they delivered a letter to the Prime Minister signed by 75 celebrities and politicians including Dame Judi Dench, June Brown MBE, Prunella Scales CBE, Timothy West CBE, Ann Widdecombe DSG, Brian Blessed, Dominic West, Eddie Izzard, Julian Clary, Michaela Strachan, Ben Goldsmith and Shadow Environment Secretary Maria Eagle MP.

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, “I am delighted that Sir Roger Moore and Imelda Staunton OBE are urging the Queen to support the promised ban on wild animals in circuses, which has support from the public and politicians alike. The Government has promised a ban and we want to see it happen. Further delays will result in continued animal suffering.”

The Government announced in March 2012 its intention to introduce legislation to prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses and last month ADI secured a commitment from the Prime Minister that a ban would be passed. However, following the publication of the Draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill last April, little progress has been made to bring this legislation into law, despite an implementation date of December 2015 being proposed in the Bill.

The delay in bringing in the ban has already seen the return of big cats to the UK – a lion and tiger act from Ireland presented by Thomas Chipperfield, a relative of the notorious Mary Chipperfield, who was prosecuted for animal cruelty following an ADI exposé in the late 1990s. The animals are forced to perform with Peter Jolly’s Circus, one of only two circuses still touring with wild animals in England, and the only act of its kind in the country.

Following ADI’s shocking revelations of the brutal violence and constant chaining of Anne the elephant at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus – whose owner was found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act – the Government announced its intention to ban wild animals in circuses “at the earliest opportunity”.

The continued use of wild animals in circuses is widely opposed by vets, animal welfare experts, animal protection groups, politicians and a huge majority of the public. Indeed, in response to a consultation by Defra on the issue, 94.5% of respondents supported a ban.

ADI is offering to help relocate the UK’s wild circus animals to sanctuaries where they can be rehabilitated. ADI recently relocated 25 lions after securing a circus ban in Bolivia which is documented in action-documentary Lion Ark. ADI is currently liaising with authorities to assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of Peru’s circus animals.

The full text of Sir Roger Moore and Imelda Stanton’s letter to the Queen is as follows:

Madam,

We are writing to you as we are deeply concerned for wild animals who are made to perform, and continue to suffer in circuses across Britain. Amongst them are lions, tigers, snakes, camels and zebra.

We, alongside many vets, animal welfare experts, animal protection groups, politicians and the vast majority of the British public, strongly oppose the use of wild animals in circuses. In fact, a consultation undertaken by Defra found that an overwhelming 94.5% support legislation to prohibit wild animal use. It is clear that the public does not want to see wild animals perform demeaning and unnatural tricks that turn them into caricatures of their wild selves and this is a view that has been consistently held for many years.

Recognising the significant support there is for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, the Government announced in March 2012 its intention to introduce legislation to prohibit such acts, stating: “there is little or no educational, conservational, research or economic benefit derived from wild animals in travelling circuses that might justify their use and the loss of their ability to behave naturally as a wild animal.”

However, following the publication of the Draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill last April, little progress has been made to bring this long overdue legislation into law, despite an implementation date of December 2015 being proposed in the Bill. We are seriously concerned – as are many others – about the lack of commitment to enact this important and well supported piece of legislation and fear that action will not be taken as promised by this Government.

The travelling circus environment can never adequately meet the complex needs of wild animals. Circus animals are forced to endure constant travel and cramped, temporary accommodation, and often spend prolonged periods either tethered or in confinement.

Animal Defenders International has exposed many instances of abuse, such as that meted out to Trudy the chimp, who was kicked and beaten by her trainer Mary Chipperfield, and Anne the elephant, who was chained to the ground and beaten with a pitchfork at Bobby Roberts Circus.

We cannot allow this cruelty and deprivation to continue.

We are asking you, your Majesty, to ensure that the ban is swiftly passed ahead of the general Election in 2015 by including it in your speech at the State Opening of Parliament. By affirming the Government’s commitment to a ban we can condemn this archaic form of entertainment to history, just as 27 countries around the world have already done.

We have the honour to be, Madam, Your Majesty's humble and obedient servants,

Sir Roger Moore KBE

Imelda Staunton OBE

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