Campaigners call on Romford MP to back ban on wild animals performing in UK circuses

Elephant at the circus. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

Elephant at the circus. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Animal rights campaigners have made a desperate plea to Romford’s MP in a bid to spell the end to wild animals in UK circuses.

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell.

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell. - Credit: Archant

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have written an open letter this week to Andrew Rosindell calling on him to not “block” vital legislation which could stop dozens of lions, tigers and camels performing in circuses across the UK.

A bill to ban wild animals is due to be presented in the House of Commons today with campaigners claiming it could be a massive move forward in ending an “archaic form of entertainment”.

Elisa Allen, PETA director, said: “Few people fail to understand that tormenting wild animals and turning them into objects of amusement and ridicule is cruel and archaic, which is why countries from the Netherlands to Slovenia have banned wild-animal circuses – and it’s shameful that the UK hasn’t yet done so.

“Britain’s lawmakers have a proud legacy of protecting animals – including introducing the first animal-welfare legislation in the world – so their delay in passing a ban on animal circuses is unconscionable and baffling.

“We hope Mr Rosindell, as a former shadow minister for Animal Welfare, does not impede the progression of this vital private member’s bill – if not because of his own conscience, then in the name of democracy.”

But Mr Rosindell has refuted the claims of ever “blocking any bill” and believes this is simply a view of “animal rights extremists”.

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In 2015, the Romford MP lodged objections to a similar bill which meant it became “fallen”.

It resulted in there being no further opportunity to debate the bill before that year’s general election.

He insists that objections were raised at the time as it was put to parliament without a debate.

Mr Rosindell has called himself a “passionate animal lover” who “always put the best interests of animals first”.

He believes the debate surrounding wild animals in circuses has become “convoluted by myths”.

“There are only now a very small number of wild animals in UK circuses and these have been born in captivity,” the Romford MP said.

“The daily routine of the circus is the only life they know.

“Many of them are several generations born in the circus and they are not captured from the wild.”

“We must have a measured debate which looks at the evidence rather than propaganda.

The bill which is due to be heard today has been tabled by Kevin Foster, MP for Torbay.

He believes now is the time for the government to act upon the ban of wild animals in UK circuses, something that was first pledged by David Cameron in 2012.

“The evidence is fairly clear, it is not possible to maintain welfare standards that wild animals ideally need.

“There is a big difference between wild animals performing tricks to those in zoos with giant enclosures and an enriching environment.

“This is a perfect opportunity to tidy up this piece of legislation.”