IoS letters, emails & online postings (25 November 2012)

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The Independent Online

It's time for the Prime Minister to stop clowning around and end the use and abuse of wild animals in British circuses ("Circuses blow their top at lion licensing plan", 18 November). The public wants an outright ban – as evidenced by the 2011 Defra consultation in which 94 per cent of respondents backed an end to this archaic form of entertainment.

Despite having been instructed by Parliament in 2011 to end this cruelty, the Government is pressing ahead with its ill-conceived inspection and licensing regime, which will do nothing to protect animals in circuses from the routine abuse they face, and will merely prolong their suffering.

In the 21st century, it is unacceptable for wild animals to be denied everything that is natural and important to them, confined to cages or boxcars, dragged around the country and forced to perform demeaning and often painful tricks for human amusement. Every animal protection group is calling for a ban, and the British Veterinary Association has made it clear that the welfare needs of wild animals cannot be met within a circus environment. Wild animals in circuses commonly suffer from chronic health problems, abusive treatment, psychological disorders and aberrant behaviour, and many die prematurely.

For the sake of the animals, the show must not go on.

Ben Williamson

Press officer, Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), London N1

With regard to the article "Oxford erupts in Battle of the Bod" (18 November). Much whinging has been heard over the past few years concerning the Bodleian Library's need to move over seven million books to a new storage site in Swindon.

What the academic world fails to understand is that storing millions of books takes up a LOT of room. Swindon is not in Swaziland and the Bodleian now offers a perfectly acceptable service delivering requested books from Swindon to Oxford twice a day.

I am employed on the administration side of an Oxford college and have yet to hear any one of our hundreds of students complain about the above changes or the service provided.

The issue here is "change", and the world of academia (in Oxford at any rate) is very reactive to change of any kind.

However, I have yet to hear how it would solve the practical problem of storing millions of books in a dry, spacious, accessible area for many years to come.

F Nichols


Robin Lane Fox is not alone in objecting to the changes at the Bodleian Library. While aspiring to make more of Oxford's collections available on open shelves is commendable, the advantages this might have afforded have been utterly vitiated by classifying the books by size and acquisition date. Readers might conceivably want to browse among books on a particular subject; but they are hardly likely to find themselves seeking out big books purchased in, say, September 1990. One of Oxford's most valued amenities is being compromised.

William Kelley

St John's College, Oxford

Several key people, including the Chancellor, seem convinced that shale gas, obtained by fracking, offers benefits in terms of climate change. ("Fracking: A new dawn for misplaced optimism", 18 November). Large amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, are released during the fracking process. Unless these fugitive emissions are kept below 2 per cent, and they are currently running at between 7 and 10 per cent, shale gas is no more climate friendly than is coal.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath

Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

I read Moyra Jean's letter (18 November) and agree wholeheartedly. I looked forward to reading about both the Women's and Men's performances at the Cycling Track Championships but there was no coverage. The picture of Laura Trott accompanied an article about the Tour de France in the UK; a race which is for men. I had hoped that the Olympics would bring about a change in sports reporting, with coverage of women's and minority sports improving. Unfortunately, my hopes are fading.

Rosslyn Hamlyn


So they've found a Stone Age home dated to "the Mesolithic period around 10,252 years ago." Couldn't you try to be a little more precise?

Sara Neill

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

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