Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Performing Animals Welfare Standards International

  Further to my written evidence of 6 August and my oral evidence before the select committee on 16 September 2004.

  I would like initially to offer my apologies for my very poor oral evidence on the 16 September, I am not used to speaking in front of a committee such as this select committee and I am afraid I became tongue tied and as such words came out of my mouth which were complete and utter gobbledegook. When I read the transcript I am embarrassed at my total lack of verbal clarity.

  I hope, therefore, that you will look at this further written evidence and take on board the points therein with sympathy and accept this written evidence as a true and clear (hopefully) view of the draft Animal Welfare Bill as seen by PAWSI.

  I write, as always, on behalf of animals in entertainment as this is what I have enjoyed as a career since 1960, having worked with all animals including exotics, lions, elephants, tigers, bears and companion animals in major movies world wide over 40 years.


  The Animal Welfare Bill will determine a clear and concise pathway for all land based industries as to their duty of care to the animals with which they work.


  It is a complex mish mash of views from the very right wing "animal rights" campaigners to the very weak "animal lovers" brigade.


  It pays too much emphasis on the un-proven animal abuse as levied by the extreme rights animal rights campaigners.


I would ask you to question and seek evidence of:

1.   Actual abuse cases upheld in court where the accused was found guilty of animal abuse?

  We all know of the recent Chipperfield case and find the video and pictures totally unacceptable.

  This is just one bad apple among many very humane animal trainers and owners and does not make the whole basket of apples rejectable.

  In every business, and I could quote many, there are people and businesses where abuse goes on but it does not make the industry as a whole questionable.

  In my living memory there has never been a case of abuse aimed at personal which provide animals for films and television. There has been a lot of talk about how it is wrong to use animals, especially exotics such as chimpanzees and elephants but no actual cases of cruelty has ever been brought or proven against a trainer who supplies animals in the media.

2.   I would ask you to question why this is?

  Could it possibly be because there is no abuse and that the objections to animals in entertainment rests in subjective views by activists fuelled by lies and emotive pictures and words of those who wish to gain momentum for self fame and their five minutes of television fame?

  No animals which have been "rescued" by animal welfare groups from circuses have been proved to be in bad health or traumatised. Why is this? Could this be because they are not in bad health or traumatised?

3.   Times have changed

  Over the decades times have changed, from our view of how children should be worked—chimneys and all that—to how animals are treated by man have changed enormously through the last century.

  Over the last 50 years—when people like David Attenborough, Gerald Durrell and Desmond Morris started out as catchers and dealers of animals everyone has changed. Practices which were deemed acceptable then are certainly not acceptable now and so it is with animals in entertainment.

  Yet if you listen to the animal anti brigade the are the only ones who know anything—this is not so—times have moved on and most people working with animals in entertainment including circus have enormous experience and species specific knowledge. They to have changed and moved towards more humane treatment of animals and this is where they tower above all the antis as they not only have the experience of how animals work they have the hands on knowledge of the behavioural patterns of animals.

  The so called experts on the animal liberation front have very little knowledge of what makes animals tick or what animals actually enjoy or dislike. Yet these people appear to have the power to persuade governments as to what is best for animals in captivity.

4.   An RSPCA report on the Training of Circus Animals

  In 1986 at the height of the anti animals in entertainment campaign the RSPCA commissioned a research project into animal abuse towards animals in entertainment and in particular "The spectacle of performing animals is widely held to be degrading and distasteful" (RSPCA 1986).

  The RSPCA provided the finance for a study into these claims and acquired the services of a well known academic Marthe Kiley-Worthington to carry out research into this subject.

  Ms Kiley-Worthington spent over 3,000 animal hours over a period of 18 months with animal trainers watching and studying, animal husbandry, training and care in all aspects of producing animals for entertainment.

  As a result of this study Ms Kiley-Worthington found, in total contrast to the RSPCA's beliefs, that there was no abuse whatsoever, that the animals were well adjusted and healthy and that there was no foundation for the common belief that animals in entertainment were disadvantaged in any way.

  As may be expected the RSPCA withdrew their further funding and it was left to UFAW who funded a research assistant and the CPA (Circus Proprietors Association) who provided funds for Marthe to publish her report.

  Marthe Kiley-Worthington reported and published her findings at the UFAW Animal training Symposium in Cambridge in September 1989.

  I would ask the select committee to gain access to this report and study it before it reaches a conclusion as to whether animals in entertainment are in peril or distress.

  Ms Kiley-Worthington argues that there is no argument that exotics should be given special consideration or be banned from being looked after or worked in any situation. She also says that the question of animals losing their dignity or being made foolish is purely in the eyes of the beholder and that the animal has no concept of dignity.

5.   Conclusion

  PAWSI agree with all and sundry that animal abuse in any form is totally abhorrent and will do all that is necessary to promote good animal husbandry and welfare both now and in the future.

  PAWSI have worked hard in recent times to promote animal welfare in the entertainment industry, we have set and completed NVQs—levels 2 and 3—specifically designed for persons working with animals in the Audio Visual Industries. These have been accepted and approved by City and Guilds and will be in the colleges in September 2005.

  PAWSI have drawn up Codes of Practice and a monitoring system which has been embraced by the Audio and Visual Industry. These groundbreaking moves will ensure good animal husbandry in the world of entertainment for decades to come.

  PAWSI are now working with Lantra on a level 4 NVQ for Animal Consultants.

6.   We would therefore argue that:

  Animals in entertainment and particularly exotic animals are not disadvantaged or barred from use.

   The arguments offered up by animal welfare groups are subjective and have no grounding on reality and therefore should be dismissed.

  To impose a ban on exotics is unnecessary as exotics are not "stolen from the wild" but are in fact many generations born and bred in captivity.

  "Hot" animals such as chimpanzees and elephants generally do not suffer in the hands of animal's trainers, in fact quite the opposite as these highly intelligent animals benefit from training as they soon get bored and unhappy left to their own devices. Even in Zoo situations they actively seek the companionship of their human caregivers.

  To impose a law on the grounds that "suffering could or may be caused" is lunacy.

  To allow an animal welfare group like the RSPCA to control or hold a data base of licences and details of animals in entertainment is fundamentally flawed as it allows access to data which by the very nature of that welfare group is contrary to their principles. This will make all animal trainers vulnerable and subject to verbal and physical abuse by more hard line animal liberation groups.

  To try and impose a law banning the use of any species of animals in entertainment without further investigation would be an infringement on human rights legislation, which enables mankind to carry out any legal business. Obviously PAWSI would endorse a duty of care to the animals concerned.

  7.  PAWSI hope that the select committee look at our thoughts and insight into animals which are trained and looked after by animal trainers in all aspects of entertainment and dismiss subjective views and emotional outbursts.

  Please look at Marthe Kiley-Worthington's report which gives a good independent review of how we work. Marthe does offer up recommendations as to improvements on how animals should be kept in circuses and most circuses now subscribe to her ideas.

4 October 2004

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared 9 December 2004