Michael Sheen: Tony Blair actor urges David Cameron to ban wild animals in circuses

'There is no longer any excuse for delaying the ban'

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British actor Michael Sheen has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to “do the right thing” and ban the use of wild animals in circuses, adding even his lion tamer great-grandmother would agree with him if she were alive today.

Writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), Sheen, who has three times played Tony Blair in docu-drama films, called for the Government to act and said: “There is no longer any excuse for delaying the ban.”  

The Independent has been at the forefront of pushing for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. The Prime Minister called it an “outdated practice” and committed to a ban in his manifesto.

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Lions and tigers are trained for the circus

Yet in March a trio of Tory backbenchers blocked the necessary bill for the 12th and final time, meaning it would not pass. “Although that promise has now been broken, now is the right time to do  the right thing,” Sheen said. 

Elisa Allen, associate director of Peta, said: “It’s not too late to do the right thing and get the legislation enacted during this parliament.”

According to figures compiled by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in 2010, 94 per cent of the British public support a ban. Sheen wrote: “That’s because our understanding of animals such as elephants, zebras and lions has improved, and we now know that a circus environment can never meet their complex needs.”

The actor criticised circuses that make animals ride bicycles, stand on their head or jump through rings of fire, saying whips, muzzles and electric prods were used to train them.

It is not the first time the Bafta award-winning actor has spoken out over political causes. A speech he gave supporting the NHS went viral in March. Meanwhile, Sir Paul McCartney has condemned proposals to bring back fox hunting as “cruel”.

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