Circus master Gerry Cottle: “I believe a ban will, in the end, improve the image of circuses in Britain. The animal issue has given circuses a bad name.”
Animal Defenders International (ADI) have found an unexpected ally in the campaign to end the use of wild animals in circuses – famous circus impresario Gerry Cottle. Years ago, they were locked in battle as Gerry Cottle’s Circus toured with elephants, lions, monkeys, and llamas. But today ADI applauded Mr Cottle for saying that the time has come to end the use of wild animals in circuses.
Gerry Cottle, once a leading advocate of wild animal acts in the big top, is backing the Government’s promise to ban the practice, saying he has “reluctantly decided to move on”, conceding “The animal issue has given circuses a bad name.”
“Sad as it is for me to say, I now support the ban,” said Mr Cottle. “Times have changed and this issue has to be decided one way or the other. I believe a ban will, in the end, improve the image of circuses in Britain.”
Gerry Cottle’s Circus will start touring again next month completely animal free with human only acts.
Tim Phillips, Campaigns Director of ADI says: “We have said for a long time that the tarnished image of the animal circus is holding back the circus industry as a whole. We have always advocated human only circuses, and are in fact involved in promoting a human only circus festival in Colombia in the near future.”
“However, every time our undercover investigations catch on film savage brutality in the circus, like that meted out to Anne the elephant, or the Great British Circus elephants, then people come to associate that with the big top generally. The longer the Government delays implementing the ban the more harm they are doing to animal welfare and the wider circus industry.”
Data collected by ADI in the past has shown that when animal circuses close they tend to be replaced by animal free circuses. ADI’s huge undercover investigation of the British circus industry in 1998, which led to the convictions of Mary Chipperfield and others, saw more than 50% of the UK’s animal circuses close within six months. Every one was replaced by an animal free circus. Since then animal circuses in the UK have continued to disappear leaving just four with wild animals. But the exposes by ADI have continued with the abuse of Anne with Bobby Roberts Circus particularly shocking the public last year.
In 2011 the Chipperfield Circus, which had previously been exposed by an ADI undercover investigation, finally went animal free.