The hopes of thousands of compassionate members of the public, as well as those of dedicated campaigners and activists around the country, have been dashed today as it was confirmed that the owner of the Great British Circus has insisted that he will continue to use animals in his show.
On the 21st August, there was widespread delight amongst 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. The statement was confirmed on the circus’ Twitter feed, where messages were sent to the various campaign groups stating “The circus is remaining open albeit with no animals”. 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.
However, days later, an individual claiming to be a worker at the circus suggested that the stories were inaccurate. The same source furthermore stated that the Twitter feed was a fraud and had nothing to do with the business. Attempts by CAPS to verify this went ignored by Lacey himself.
Following a report published at the weekend, which stated that the circus was not putting an end to animal performances, CAPS tracked down the journalist that wrote the story. She confirmed to that she had spoken directly to Mr Lacey on the 23rd August and, in response to her questioning over the future of the Great British Circus, he insisted that animal use would continue.
Director of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, Liz Tyson, said that the circus was “shooting itself in the foot”. She stated:
“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. 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 would not be surprised if we saw increased demonstrations as people move to voice their concerns. Last week the spotlight was on the circus for taking a responsible decision – now it is back on them, but for all the wrong reasons. We are calling upon Mr Lacey to heed the calls and take advantage of the new audience that his business would receive if the animals are allowed to retire in peace”.
CAPS’ campaign partners, the Born Free Foundation and the RSPCA have offered to find homes for the animals at no cost to the circus.
Ms Tyson added:
“It is bad news, but we simply continue with the campaign. With a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses on its way in from Government, it is a matter of time before the practice becomes illegal. Of course, this ban cannot come quickly enough for the animals, and it won’t protect domesticated animals like horses and dogs so work must continue to ensure that no animal is left behind”.
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