British Government Drags its Feet on Wild Animal Circuses – Again

In a shameful failure to show leadership and support the will of Parliament and public, the British Government has failed – again – to end the suffering of wild animals in travelling circuses. This weakness leaves the UK open to animals arriving with circuses from abroad.

For the second year, the promised wild animal circus ban has not been included in the Government’s legislative schedule.

This embarrassing debacle over a widely-supported measure looks set to continue unless the Coalition Government can show that it has the strength and leadership to follow its own recommendations, as set out in the draft legislation – recommendations which are the result of years of consultations, examinations, committees and working parties.

In a survey conducted by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 94.5% of the public supported a wild animal ban; the majority of Members of Parliament support a ban; the British Veterinary Association has announced its support for a ban.

If it is to retain any credibility, the Government needs to stop running away from this issue and ensure the promised ban does not run out of time before the next General Election.

Since the UK was promised a ban in 2012, seven countries have passed similar legislation. Shameful.

Further delay just looks weak and is an embarrassment for the UK, when compared to the leadership shown by 27 countries across Europe, Asia, and Latin America – see:

If you’re in the UK – tell your MP today, that you want to see this ban pushed through. The animals have waited long enough.

Wild Animal Circus Bill Introduced to US Congress



A great day – today, on Capitol Hill, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced HR 4525, the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (TEAPA), into the 113th Congress of the United States. The Bill will end the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling circuses in the US.

The issue of animal cruelty and suffering is always, of course, a nonpartisan issue. The original cosponsors of H.R. 4525 standing against cruelty alongside Rep Moran are: Rep Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep Tony Cardenas (D-CA).

It’s time to BACK THE BAN and SUPPORT TEAPA! See: See

The US has joined an honourable group: thirty countries around the world are either discussing a wild animal ban – such as the UK, Brazil and Mexico – or have already passed a ban. Twenty-seven countries including Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Greece, India, Panama and Singapore have ended either wild animal, or all animal circuses. The full list is here: here

This US bill, like the British Government’s Wild Animal Circus Bill, is not just about the brutality and cruelty we have exposed. Animal suffering in traveling circuses is directly related to the circumstances; many hours tied up or chained in barren living spaces, unable to move about and the need for animal accommodation to be small, mobile and collapsible, in order to fit on a trailer or truck.

Over the past 23 years, all species of circus animals ADI has studied have displayed the disturbed, stereotypic behaviors that indicate an animal is not coping with its environment and is therefore suffering.

During a recent study, we were able to show that the wild animal performances were just 15 minutes of a two-hour circus show. This is easy to change – circuses vary their shows every year – removing the wild animals is not a huge step.

Certainly, the public enjoys wider choices for entertainment than previously and increased awareness of the needs, intelligence and emotions of other species makes the animal shows less popular than the hugely successful non-animal circus shows like Cirque du Soleil.

Causing animals pain and suffering just for entertainment is unacceptable in a modern, civilized society and thankfully many countries are waking up to this important issue.

PM David Cameron “going to” end wild animal circuses?

Together with Stanley Johnson (ex-MEP), social justice campaigner Peter Tatchell and MPs Caroline Lucas, Jim Dowd, John McDonnell and Adrian Sanders, I delivered a letter about animal circuses to Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street today. Cameron-Johnson-Tatchell-300x225McDonnell-Tatchell-Johnson-Creamer-Sanders-300x225


The letter, signed by 75 politicians and celebrities, calls on the Coalition Government to ban wild animals from circuses. Signatories include Eddie Izzard, Julian Clary, Moby, Michaela Strachan, Brian Blessed, Dominic West and sustainable investment leader Ben Goldsmith – all have joined our initiative to persuade the Government to fulfil its promise to end the suffering.

As we gathered for the presentation, the PM stopped to briefly discuss the issue with Peter Tatchell and Stanley Johnson, and said: “we’re going to do it.”

Hopes were high when the Coalition Government promised the long-awaited ban on wild animals in circuses in 2012; an issue that is supported by over 95% of the public (DEFRA survey) and over 60% of Members of Parliament (poll for ADI).

The campaign has a long history: Between the late 1970s and the end of the 1990s, a wave of animal circus bans were won in over 200 local authorities across the UK, as town, city and county councils looked at the issues of animal cruelty and suffering, public safety, nuisance and traffic. They concluded that travelling animal circuses are no longer acceptable in an advanced, civilised society. Our undercover investigations provided irrefutable evidence of the brutality of circus life.

Last year, a Draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill was finally sent to the Parliamentary Environment, Food and Agriculture Committee (EFRA) for comment. However, following EFRA’s ill-considered remarks and recommendations (which we vigorously critiqued), the Government confirmed that the Draft Bill would be presented to Parliament as it stands. Importantly, the Bill stipulates that the ban will come into effect in December 2015, so time is short.

Since then, the Government has allowed the Bill to drift into the long grass, and with a General Election on the horizon for 2015, it is clear that the opportunity to end the suffering of wild animals in circuses in the UK could be lost, if the Bill is not moved forward quickly.

If this Bill is not presented in time for MPs to discuss and vote before the end of this Parliament, the Government will not only be directly responsible for the continued violence and suffering from environmental deprivation, but also for the suffering of many more animals – especially those coming from abroad.

A failure to ban wild animal circuses in the UK will inevitably result in foreign circuses bringing a wider range of species to the UK – the kinds of animals we have not seen here for decades. Species observed in European circuses include hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, elephant, chimpanzee, sea lion, python and other snakes, lion, tiger, zebra, and more.

Having failed (twice) to overturn Austria’s ban in Europe, the European circus industry will see the UK as a prime new outlet for their increasingly unpopular shows.

We are not saying that travelling circuses should be banned. In fact, the animal acts are usually a small part of the average 2-hour show. So the circuses can re-tool, modernise and go animal free, providing employment for human acts. This has certainly been the case in the UK, where wild animal circuses have been steadily replaced by all-human performer shows – but that is not an excuse to do nothing – failure to get this widely-supported Bill passed, will cause an unacceptable level suffering.

Brutality of Lab Monkey Supply Exposed

ADI monkey investigation 639

ADI monkey investigation 156ADI monkey investigation 410Last week, the National Anti-Vivisection Society UK and Animal Defenders International US released horrific undercover footage of abuse and suffering of monkeys at the Biodia monkey farm in Mauritius.
Not only are these animals bred in factory-farm conditions, but also due to the failure of captive breeding, they are continuously taken from the wild, inevitably causing unbalanced populations and therefore wider environmental damage. The monkeys are exported all over the world, including to the US and the UK, two of the world’s largest markets for monkeys – despite the increasing availability of alternatives and public and political support to restrict primate use in research and end the use of wild-caught primates.
Screaming, baby monkeys were torn from their mothers’ arms and pinned down to be tattooed as their distressed mothers looked on, helpless to protect their babies. Terrified monkeys were netted and slammed onto concrete floors and wrenched from cages by their tails. Frightened and distress, monkeys were clamped down and injected into the eyelid for TB tests. Some of the footage shows workers actually swinging the monkeys by their tails with the animals unable to control how they landed.
The barren, crowded cages, with broken families and deaths and injuries from fighting due to cramped, deprived conditions, makes this a hell on earth for these intelligent, emotional and sensitive primates.
These are highly evolved animals and seeing other monkeys being restrained and suffering procedures causes high levels of stress – this is acknowledged in the UK regulations on primate use, which stipulate that monkeys should not be subjected to experimental procedures in the presence of other monkeys. However, in our Huntingdon Life Sciences investigation, monkeys could see and hear each other during procedures and stress-related prolapses were reported,
Shipped thousands of miles to laboratory customers the terrified monkeys spend hours in tiny boxes, alone, fearful and distressed, and many die or become sick on the journey.
Air France & China Southern are the last remaining passenger airlines to fly monkeys destined for laboratories.
See the full story:
Our investigators also uncovered Biodia’s plans to set up a Mauritius monkey breeding colony in Florida, with their US partner, Prelabs,

Where next with Lion Ark?

Many of our audiences at the Q&A sessions following the film festival screenings of Lion Ark have asked where we are going with the move – when will it be on general release in cinemas and theaters, whether will it be on DVD, VOD, TV. This is the start of Lion Ark’s life.

Our film festival tour to get Lion Ark The Movie sold for general distribution has seen us in eight festivals in six weeks – Raindance London, Mill Valley CA, San Diego, Hawaii, Ft Lauderdale, Virginia, Starz Denver and Sun & Sand Biloxi, Mississippi.

We won and Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at San Diego and an jury panel Award for Best Documentary at Sun & Sand. The movie played to sell-out audiences at Raindance, Mill Valley and Starz Denver, where two extra screenings were added to cope with demand, and these sold out as well.

Our final festival screening of 2013 is Anchorage, Alaska in December and we start next year with more festivals. The audience responses have been visceral; all at the same time intrigued, elated, tears and laughter.

Lion Ark is more action adventure style than traditional documentary. It is up-close-and-personal, in-the-middle-of-the-action. We’ve been calling it an ‘actionmentary’! The audience feels the emotions of the rescuers and the pain and joy of the animals, moment by moment.

We walked the floor at the American Film Festival in Santa Monica last week, getting interest from several industry buyers. We have also been approached at the film festivals.

Our ambition for Lion Ark is that it should be seen by as many people as possible, all over the world – people can enjoy the movie as a piece of entertainment, but will come out of the cinema with an understanding about the suffering of animals in circuses. Although we have the very handsome Hercules as our poster boy and the focus of the story is our lion stars, the movie is about all animals.

We would like to see Lion Ark on general release in cinemas and movie theaters, followed by TV and DVD and all the routes. Distribution is an expensive operation and will require detailed contracts to ensure some of the money earned from it can be fed back into more rescues.

Lion Ark is an independently funded film, we don’t have studio or network money behind it, and we have taken it as far as we can on our own. We realise we are up against huge competition and big industry-funded productions, but we know we have a good commercial product as illustrated the reactions of audiences, critics, and industry buyers has been huge.

See the new ‘Reactions to Lion Ark’ video at:

In short, it is a great story. An Academy member said to me this week “you have a very good movie, has it been nominated?” (for the ®Oscars). In fact our week-long qualifying cinema runs in Los Angeles and New York will mean that Lion Ark can be considered. This will raise the profile of the film.

Getting Lion Ark picked up for wider distribution by a company with the financial muscle and expertise to maximise its potential is our aim. It is an important story for people to see worldwide.

It was through the generosity of the legendary Bob Barker that we were able to undertake the Bolivian rescue. We are doing our best to make the story of that rescue something that will change the world forever, for animals used in entertainment. For production of the movie we had the support of Associate Producer, Jorja Fox, through her company Seafox Productions including help to fund the film, along with our wonderful band of ‘Contributor Producers’, who have shown such faith in the project.

While writing, a quick warning – a few wicked people are trying to pirate Lion Ark (or parts of it, or pictures) for websites aiming get money, which would take the money away from the animals. So far, these appear to be scams to get people’s credit card details – don’t click on these websites or try to download anything!

If you see any illegal sites either showing parts of Lion Ark, or claiming to have possession of the whole movie, do let us know – because they are taking the animals’ money. Contact us at:

On a happier note, here are the dates of the upcoming screenings and filmmaker Q&A sessions where Tim Phillips and I will attend:

New York: Sunday November 17th, at the QUAD Cinema, Manhattan, 6.30pm and Monday 18 – Q&A session after the 1.15pm and 6.30pm screenings Tickets

Los Angeles: Wednesday November 20 and Thursday 21, at the Laemmle Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills – Q&A session after the 2:20pm and 7:20pm screenings. Tickets

Thank you everyone, for your support for Lion Ark.

Lion Ark storms the festivals, but meanwhile LA let the animals down

The Lion Ark film festival tour continued with three shows in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, which was wonderful. We are on our way to DC now for meetings, then to Charlottesville to play at the Virginia Film Festival, followed by Denver Film Festival – all very exciting.

We have three shows at Denver (four screenings for schools). The Denver schedule also includes two important after party fundraisers for Peru, as their government has asked us to perform the same task as we did for Bolivia.

The Bolivian circus rescue is, of course, the subject of Lion Ark and audiences have been enjoying this close up and personal in-the-thick-of-the-action animal rescue – you can enjoy the adventure, will leave with a real understanding about the use of animals in traveling circuses.
Help us get Lion Ark to general distribution!
Please like Lion Ark on Facebook and help us to get wider distribution for the movie with your votes and your “likes”!
See more at:

Thoughts on Los Angeles

It remains a huge disappointment that the Los Angeles City Council decided to go for the weakest option for their circus ordinance – a prohibition on the use of the bullhook (ankus) and other implements like pitchforks, when used to control elephants in a “performance related context”.

Worse still, the ban was postponed for three years. This could mean up to five years before anything can be done to end the suffering of wild animals in circuses in LA; three years waiting for the ordinance to come into force and then maybe a year or more before its effectiveness has been assessed.

Whilst phase-outs often occur when animal use (either all, or wild animals) is being eliminated, there seems no logical reason for a delay for prohibiting a control tool for a single species.

Ordinances to ban tools cannot address the issue of the suffering caused by deprived, barren environments, constant travel, small spaces and confinement. Animals being forced to stand in the same place for many hours at a time suffer stiffness and pain in their joints and commonly amongst the elephants, foot problems and arthritic conditions. The restriction of natural behaviors has an effect on both mind and body – the abnormal pacing, rocking, swaying seen in all species of animals used in traveling – lions, tigers, bears, elephants and others (including domestics) is the result of the deprivation and stress they endure. They slowly go out of their minds.

We believe there are weaknesses with banning the use of implements like bullhooks and pitchforks from circuses rather than the use of animals, and these need to be addressed. In over 20 years of investigations we have recorded animals being beaten by all kinds of tools, from shovels and brooms to iron bars, fists, whips and anything else that is to hand, such as a golf club.

There are significant enforcement issues to address with prohibitions on tools: Difficulties with monitoring, especially since most of the abuse filmed by ADI in circuses has been behind the scenes. Circuses may adapt their behavior in public; one has already circumvented such a ban by using bamboo canes to control their elephants in public.

Around the world, there are now hundreds of local bans on the use of animals in circuses – Europe, the UK, South America, the US and Asia. Twenty-five countries have national legislation ending traveling animal circus shows and others, including the UK, have legislation under consideration. In the US, there are over 30 local bans on animal circuses (wild or all animals) in 18 states. These ordinances and national laws point to the most effective way to protect these animals – take them out of the circus shows.

A strategy with inherent difficulties like a ban on tools or other implements commonly used in animal husbandry, rather than on the presence of the animals in such deprived and vulnerable circumstances, can only be regarded as a last resort, and deficiencies would need to be addressed. To ask for the weakest measure first is not, in our view, the best way to protect animals.

We cannot envisage that any of the animal circus bans we have worked on in the US and around the world, would have been achieved if we had asked for a ban on tools/weapons or equipment, rather than removal of the animals from unacceptable conditions.

See our LA City update:
And the US circus campaign at:

We continue to work hard for local ordinances across the US and perhaps other cities will join with this worldwide movement and take the progressive step to enact effective protection for animals.

Support a ban on circus elephants in Los Angeles

Come to the Los Angeles City Council Meeting 10am Wednesday 23rd and support a complete ban on the use of elephants in circuses – OPTION 1 – this is the strongest measure to protect animals. Prof Donald Broom, Cambridge University, said at the Anne the elephant cruelty trial that she probably suffered more from the conditions, the confinement, than the beatings.

Los Angeles City Council to decide about elephant ban

Many are hearing the news from groups that there is a bullhook ban on the table at Los Angeles City Council next Wednesday, 23rd, at 10.00am.

What most have not been told, is that there are THREE options on the table, and OPTION 1 and OPTION 3 are the strongest measures for animal protection:

OPTION 1: Elephant ban–
“…an Ordinance prohibiting the use of elephants in traveling shows and exhibitions”.

OPTION 2: Bullhook and other implements ban–
“…an Ordinance prohibiting in any public performance-related context the use of bullhooks (aka “guides” or ankuses”), baseball bats, axe handles, pitchforks and other implements and tools designed to inflict pain for the purpose of training and controlling the behavior of elephants.”

OPTION 3: Combined elephant ban with bullhook ban–
“…an Ordinance prohibiting the use of elephants in traveling shows and exhibitions (including circuses) and, in any public performance-related context, the use of bullhooks/guides,baseball bats, axe handles, pitchforks and other implements and tools designed to inflict pain for the purpose of training and controlling the behavior of elephants.”

After 30 years of undercover investigations and lobbying local cities and regions, and with there now being 20 national bans on the use of animals (either just wild or wild and domestic), ADI has concluded that only a clear ban on all species or specific species can solve the suffering of animals in traveling circuses.

A bullhook ban alone fails to protect the majority of wild animals in traveling circuses; all kinds of tools are used to beat animals and it is not possible to make a workable list; there is no practical way to be sure that these weapons or tools are not being concealed somewhere in the circus, and of course, other tools can be used. Think for a moment of all the chaining and physical abuse of elephants that hasn’t involved bullhooks – like Anne the elephant beaten with pitchforks and brooms, kicked and punched, and not once in the videos used in the cruelty trial was a bullhook used. Banning the bullhook may be a symbolic step, but shouldn’t we be seizing the opportunity to actually stop the suffering? Option 1 does that, at least for elephants.

A bullhook ban does not address public safety issues – having large and stressed wild animals in open spaces in public and behind flimsy mobile, collapsible barriers and facilities is the issue. Importantly, a ban on implements does not address the most severe aspects of the mental and physical suffering – deprived, barren environments, constant travel, inability to move around at will and express normal behavior patterns – all causes of stereotypical behaviors – recorded in all species.

Only a ban on the use of animals in the context of a traveling circus can end the suffering – as has been found by hundreds of towns and cities around the world, and over 20 countries. ADI is of course concerned that just focusing on elephants will leave lions, tigers and other animals vulnerable – and leave LA open to itinerant acts such as the Hall’s Bears, where in recent weeks, we exposed extreme confinement and barren conditions as the bears moved from state to state.

However, there is a chance here to clearly eliminate the suffering of elephants in the city and that should be seized. ADI recommends support for the strongest option, OPTION 1, or at least, Option 3. A species ban is the best option to end the suffering.

Contact us at the ADI Los Angeles office for information about contacting the City Council, and for our briefing on this important campaign:


Lion Ark movie Contributor Credits Closed today

Final credits are finished and score completed! Lion Ark is in the film festivals from October.

Early reviews are very exciting (see below) and see more news at:

and on facebook at,

Lion Ark is an action adventure style animal rescue where just a small group of people changed a continent – but the animals are the stars, you’ll root for the animals and love it when they win.  Photo is one of our stars, CSI actress Jorja Fox.Image

EFRA report on Wild Animals in Circuses Bill makes no sense

The report of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee (EFRA) on the UK Government’s Wild Animals in Circuses Bill is so shallow that it makes no sense. Profoundly disappointing.

Flying in the face of overwhelming public opinion (94.5% favour a ban in a DEFRA survey); 63% of Members of Parliament favour a ban (Dods poll), and a 2011 vote of the Backbench Committee of Members of Parliament instructing the Government to introduce a ban – EFRA has decided that we only need to ban the species that we no longer have in UK circuses.

We were pleased that after twenty years of investigations, reports, studies and four criminal convictions secured through ADI investigations, the Government finally introduced a Bill to end use of wild animals in travelling circuses.

It is disturbing that now, without requesting or examining evidence of animal suffering, EFRA has recommended that only elephants (no longer in UK circuses), lions, tigers and other large cats (no longer in UK circuses) should be banned. They recommend the licensing scheme be extended indefinitely, despite that not a single prosecution nor any exposé of abuse, has been found by inspectors. On the contrary, we have filmed inspections during periods where animals have been abused or where their care is poor, and the problems were not identified. The veterinary visits and inspections of Anne the elephant at Bobby Roberts’ Super Circus did not prevent the abuse or her suffering from constant chaining, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

EFRA also claims that it is not necessary for a circus owner or worker to be banned from keeping animals under any new legislation, because the Animal Welfare Act 2006 can be used to prosecute and then ban if a conviction follows. This is far more problematic than EFRA suggests. Bobby Roberts was convicted for his failure to protect Anne under the Animal Welfare Act, however he did not receive a fine, nor did he receive a ban. If he had not given up Anne due to the media pressure, she would be with him now.

The suggestion that a list of proscribed species be added to the Bill, rather than an clear-cut end to the use of wild and exotic animals is illogical and impractical. A simple ban on non-domesticated species is clear for everyone to follow and has the support of public and parliament. A proscribed list of species invites European circuses to bring to Britain a whole range of species such as primates, rhino and even hippos – species that, currently, many of our local authorities have already banned. Over 200 local authorities in the UK do not allow animal circuses, or certain species, on their land. A list of species added to any Act would need to be regularly updated.

See our comments in The Guardian: