Circuses blow their top at lion licensing plan

Owners say proposal is 'disrespectful' and could drive them out of business

A A A

A plan to force circuses to license all their lions, tigers and elephants – thrashed out after the Government shelved an outright ban on performing wild animals – could still drive many circuses out of business, owners have warned.

Circus representatives told ministers the compromise was "disrespectful", imposed unreasonable costs and would stop them hitting animals to control and train them. Notes from a secret meeting between the sides, obtained by The Independent on Sunday, show that circuses were also angered by a government press statement headed "Animals deserve our respect".

Animal-rights activists insisted the documents confirmed their "long-held concerns about the welfare of wild animals in circuses".

The official report of the meeting, between senior figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, three circuses, the Performing Animals Welfare Standards International and the Classical Circus Association, said the costs to circuses were too high and "unreasonable", given that a ban was still possible, and that the costs should be absorbed by the Government.

The document also reported that the circus delegates had complained that "no hitting at all ignores various circumstances (such as breaking up fights)", and that "keeping animals in exercise areas overnight [was] not possible or safe".

It added: "Animals have to be chained so that keepers can sleep. Tethers (chain or otherwise) are not only appropriate but vital. Elephants will sleep for five to ten hours every day as a minimum – [keepers] can't sit and guard them for that time."

One delegate, who asked not to be named, said: "We put forward constructive proposals, but there was no movement. They are asking us to pay to be licensed for three years and then banned at the end of it."

But Will Travers, chief executive of the Born Free Foundation, said the document showed that circuses "clearly want to continue to be able to hit animals under certain circumstances, to chain animals overnight and keep [them] in tiny spaces".

MPs called for a blanket ban last year, after well-publicised cases of animal cruelty in British circuses, but the Government initially opposed the move, fearing lawsuits from disgruntled owners. Robin Hargreaves, the president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, said: "The BVA has strongly supported a ban because we believe the welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within the environment of a travelling circus."

Martin Burton, owner of Zippo's Circus – which does not use wild animals – said: "There are animal rights activists who lie and cheat and cause harm, but it is the circuses that the Government comes after."

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam