That the Great British Circus — ‘best circus with animals’ — has sacked one of its animal keepers is a small and ultimately empty gesture.
Evidence gathered by Animal Defenders International does not point to a one off incident easily resolved by dismissing the perpetrator. Amongst other abuses, it shows elephants being routinely beaten and hooks used not just in training, but during performances.
The Great British Circus clearly comes out of the same tradition as the freak shows that put deformed people on stage to be laughed at. Here animals are treated as freaks and forced to perform tricks that are by definition unusual and against their nature for crude amusement. The circus claims to provide the ‘best and most practical accommodation’ for its animals, but it is clear that best has to compromise with practical. As a travelling freak show, the Great British Circus visits venues unlikely to have facilities for elephants to roam… which is why they are confined in chains for up to eleven hours a day.
I’m pleased to see that my MP, John Leech, has signed two early day motions — EDM 948 and EDM 976 — condemning the use of animals in circuses, one of which names the Great British Circus. If your MP hasn’t signed, you should ask them to do so.