In a letter to an ADI supporter, Defra has launched a raft of new excuses for avoiding a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses – a ban supported overwhelmingly by public and parliament. So, it would appear not only incapable of listening, but increasingly desperate.
It was of course, Defra minister Jim Paice who announced to the House of Commons last May, that a UK ban might invite a legal challenge from Europe (citing Austria), or that it might be be challenged under the European Services Directive and/or the Human Rights Act. This did not wash. Now, with stunning obstinacy Defra writes: “Legal advice remains that without either new evidence of irremediable welfare problems or of a clear rational ethical argument (that would not take in other animals), a ban on performing animals in travelling circuses is highly vulnerable on legal grounds”, and on the matter of Austria (the challenge to Austria’s ban having been thrown out) they now insist “the Austrian case may have limited relevance to England’s position”, so “…. the risk of a successful legal challenge to any ban introduced in England remains high…”. Oh, dear, come on!
Who would have believed such goings on over a clear and straightforward case like wild animals in circuses? Hello, Defra…. wild animals living on the backs of trucks… extreme physical confinement and chaining… no opportunity for normal behaviour or for the animal to control its own immediate space? Not to mention the kicking, punching and beating. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Everybody knows it. Except Defra-do-nothing.