Lions and tigers are left behind by broken promises
The controversial act, ‘An Evening with Lions and Tigers’, is the last in the UK to feature big cats – an outdated practice that is overwhelmingly opposed by the public has been barred by many local authorities, and the government has promised to ban.
ADI filmed 29.5 hours of footage, recorded at the big cats’ accommodation in the Black country over a three day period between 7th and 9th September 2016. The footage shows the animals displaying abnormal behaviour, demonstrating that they are not coping with their environment.
ADI Vice President, Tim Phillips, said:
Travelling shows are no fun for animals. Confinement and deprivation are endemic to this industry, whether the act is touring or not. The Government’s failure to fulfil its promise to ban wild animal acts has let down both the public and the animals it vowed to protect. The latest ADI evidence shows regulations have failed and that these animals are desperately lacking legal protection.
The site where the lions and tigers are kept is situated next to a horse abattoir and sandwiched between two busy main roads, the M6 Toll road and the A5, with incessant rumbling of traffic.
Thomas Chipperfield, co-owner of the show, had been at this location for nearly a year, since his Welsh tour ended in November 2015. He withdrew his licence application under the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012 after a DEFRA inspection report found the indoor accommodation was not of sufficient size.
Chipperfield has since joined Italian circus ‘Circo Di Vienna’, leaving his animals behind, for a four month winter season, working with a tiger act. He intends to return to the UK with a new show in 2017.
ADI’s latest undercover footage reveals:
- The lions and tigers live in a cage on wheels. One day, the lions were not allowed out at all. Another day, the tigers were given just 90 minutes access to the enclosure.
- Inside the cages, the lions and tigers are seen to pace back and forth continuously to relieve their stress and boredom. Such pacing is an abnormal, repetitive ‘stereotypic’ behaviour, not seen in the wild, but commonly observed in circuses, and indicates compromised welfare.
- The lions, Tsavo and Assegai, and tigers, Nadi, Syas and Altai, are shut behind heavy steel shutters at night. ADI witnessed the animals entombed like this for up to 14 hours.
- During our three days of observations, two dogs were kept inside the circus training ring and were not let out.
- Even when the animals are given access to the muddy, waterlogged exercise enclosure, the tigers will often remain inside their cages, appearing institutionalised to the extent that they are reluctant to leave their familiar space.
34 countries around the world have introduced prohibitions on animals in circuses to date, with England, Scotland and Wales promising to ban wild animal acts.
The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) has concluded
There is by no means the possibility that their [wild mammals in travelling circuses] physiological, mental and social requirements can adequately be met.
The British Veterinary Association said
The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus – in terms of housing or being able to express normal behaviour.
As well as vets, the continued use of wild animals in circuses is widely opposed by animal welfare experts, animal protection groups, politicians and a huge majority of the public. In response to a Government consultation by DEFRA, 94.5% of the public supported a ban.
Over 200 local authorities in the UK have prohibited wild or all animal acts on public land and opinion polls consistently show that the public remains overwhelmingly opposed to wild animal acts, with a high proportion against all animal acts.
Despite assurances from the circus industry that animals are well cared for, the physical and psychological health of animals in circuses is inevitably compromised. Animals in circuses can also be subjected to brutal training methods and violence – wherever ADI has conducted an undercover investigation in the UK and around the world, it has documented acts of abuse.
Animal circuses do nothing to teach people about the animals’ real needs and the way they live, and have no role to play in education or conservation.