Snakes, zebras, camels, raccoons and reindeers should be excluded from circus animal ban, say MPs

 

Government proposals to ban all wild animals from travelling circuses should be watered down to allow zebras, camels, reindeer and snakes to stay on the road, MPs have recommended.

The report argues that many wild circus animals should continue to ply their trade since they are domesticated in other countries or being employed quite happily in other walks of life – such as the Britain’s Got Talent TV show.

But it agreed that big cats and elephants should be banned.

“The days when it was appropriate to have animals like lions, tigers or elephants travelling with circuses are long past,” said Anne MacIntosh, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA), adding that the ban should end there.

“It is not clear that there is a material difference between those who keep wild birds for falconry displays and those who keep such birds for displays in a circus,” found the report into a draft government bill which proposes to ban all wild animals from England from December 2015, with a view to later extending it across the UK.

“Nor is the difference clear between having a display involving a raccoon in a circus or a raccoon in an act on Britain’s Got Talent,” the report added.

Ms MacIntosh said she saw “little sense” in banning snakes and parrots when they could be bought in pet shops and held in domestic captivity, and pointed out that camels are allowed to race in the UK. Meanwhile, the logistics of keeping and transporting zebras are very similar to those of horses, which are routinely moved around, she said.

Ms MacIntosh said she was well aware that public opinion overwhelmingly supports an outright ban on wild animals in the circus, but believes this consensus stems from a mistaken perception that large numbers of elephant s and big cats are still used in performances by travelling circuses.

In fact there are no circuses using elephants and big cats since the Great British Circus stopped touring last year.

A total of 21 wild animals work in the UK, at just two travelling circuses. Circus Mondao has two camels, two reindeer and two zebra, while Peter Jolly’s Circus has a camel, a fox, a raccoon, four reindeer, six snakes , a zebra and an ankole – a breed of cattle with enormous horns up to 2.4m across.

The cruel treatment of Anne, an Asian elephant, was one of the factors behind MPs’ support for a ban. An undercover film showed her being kicked and hit by a groom at Bobby Roberts Supercircus. Roberts was found guilty last year of causing unnecessary suffering to a performing elephant. He was given a three-year conditional discharge.

The committee recommends that the government revise the bill to narrow the ban to all big cat species such as lions and tigers, and elephants, giving the secretary of state powers to amend the list in the future to reflect “prevailing social and cultural attitudes” or if other species of wild animal is introduced into circuses.

A spokesman for the Department for Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Agriculture said: “We will be carefully looking at the points raised by the Committee.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Financial Controller

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is a busy and varied role w...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Maths teacher require...

KS1 Teacher

£21500 - £31500 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work...

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style