Last week, thousands of people shared the delight of animal protection campaigners from groups leading the call to see an end to the archaic use of animals in circuses when Great British Circus owner, Martin Lacey, reportedly confirmed that his circus would no longer use animals in its shows. Messages of support for the circus poured in as people who had boycotted the show for years said they might now be encouraged to give the business their custom. Despite this, in reports released yesterday it was suggested that the circus owner had had change of heart as he apparently “insisted he was not planning to stop using animals” to local press.
The news broke at the same time as reports surfaced of a lion on the loose in the area in which the circus had been touring. Press have suggested that the lion may be from the Great British Circus, but were unable to confirm this as Lacey could not be contacted last night.
Director of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, Liz Tyson, stated that the circus was “shooting itself in the foot”. She said:
“Those of us working on this campaign are no strangers to U-turns as the Government changed its approach on the issue a number of times. We have been in touch with Mr Lacey this week and congratulated him on his reported decision to end the exploitation of animals in his circus. Despite confirmation from various sources that the original stories were accurate, suggestions from the circus industry in the last few days have implied that Lacey has no intention of ending the use of animals, and this new report appears to confirm that.
“Following the overwhelming support for the alleged decision to go all-human, it seems the circus have really shot themselves in the foot with this apparent backtracking. By insisting animal use will continue they are losing the opportunity to really endear themselves to a new audience. Due to the scrutiny over this story in the last week, and the delight expressed at the prospect of an animal-free circus, is likely that people will be even less supportive than before if animals continue in the show. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw increased support for protests against the circus as a result. We are calling upon Mr Lacey to heed the calls to retire the animals once and for all”.
Despite requests for clarification, the circus has not issued a formal statement on the issue following the original report in Horse and Hound last week. The charity now renews its call to Mr Lacey to confirm his plans. CAPS’ campaign partners, the RSPCA and the Born Free Foundation, have offered, on more than one occasion, to find lifelong homes for the animals, to allow them to retire in peace.
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