Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Pressure to Ban Circus Animals

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Pressure to Ban Circus Animals

Article excerpt

MPs from Teesside and beyond are continuing to press Government to ban the use of animals in circuses, LINDSEY MUSSETT looks at the debate.

ALMOST a third of MPs backed a call for a ban on the use of animals in circuses when it was put before the House of Commons.

A total of 199 of the country's 650 elected representatives supported an Early Day Motion (EDM) last year calling for it to be outlawed.

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And 82 MPs then signed a second EDM, tabled in May, again calling on the Government to act.

The debate had been triggered by the distressing tale of Anne - Britain's last circus elephant.

Images obtained by campaign group Animal Defenders International (ADI) had shown the 58-year-old being beaten, kicked and even stabbed by a worker employed to take care of her.

Thankfully for Anne, exposure of the abuse led to it being nipped in the bud and she was taken away from Bobby Roberts' Super Circus to live out her retirement at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire.

Among the MPs to sign the original EDM were Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop and Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham.

And Mr Cunningham said that it seemed "amazing" that, in the 21st century, there was any opposition to banning the use of animals in circuses.

He said: "The practice is cruel - and if animals were meant to do tricks, they wouldn't need training."

He said the public at large wanted a ban "so it is time it was simply done."

In May, ADI released the results of an independent online poll carried out by YouGov, which asked participants to what extent they would support or oppose a ban.

It showed 72% backed a ban with only 8% against.

But John Haze, who runs the popular Circus of Horrors - and who co-runs the Moscow State Circus with Paul Archer, of Derby, and Hartlepool dad Anthony Anderson - does not think an outright ban is the way to go.

John, 50, said: "The circuses I deal with don't have animals; however, I was born and bred in a circus that did.

"All the circuses had them and I have to say I never saw any cruelty - in fact, it was the opposite - the animals often took preference over the artists. …

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