Wild Animals in Circuses (No.2) Bill

Written evidence submitted by Rona Brown for the Circus Guild of Great Britain and as CEO of PAWSI (Performing Animals Welfare Standards International) (WAC15)


I am a Wild Animal Trainer to the film and television industry for over 50 years with my own business. I have trained and produced most species other than cetaceans for major movies. I am also a Part Time Lecturer in Animal Welfare and Behaviour in the Audio Visual Industry, Course Tutor and Primary Assessor for the NVQs regarding animals in entertainment. I have also worked with DEFRA and MAFF before them regarding many Bills regarding Wild Animals.


I would like to state that I believe this Bill is: discriminatory; disproportionate; driven by animal welfare groups based on their personal ethical preferences; has no evidence to back their beliefs; the Bill is unnecessary when there are already laws to protect wild animals in circuses in place; It is unfair, unjust and I believe disgracefully unfair policy making.

Mr Gove states that he believes that the Bill does not contravene any Human Rights Regulations, however I believe it does.

A ban on performing animals in circuses is not acceptable under the Human Rights Act. Circuses have a right to go about their businesses without fear or intimidation providing they keep within the law.

It is discriminatory because it judges against the two active circuses just because they are called circus. Whilst other trainers doing the same but not called a circus are excluded and allowed to carry on their business.

The definition of wild animals is completely disproportionate as it says a wild animal is an animal not indigenous in the UK. Well neither are alpacas but the government turn a blind eye to alpaca parties, also llama shows, poisonous snake encounters, camel shows, and many other non indigenous species presented throughout the land to entertain the public.

Circuses do much the same as others with hoof stock do all around the country, however the circuses are licensed to do so, the others are not, yet they move from ground to ground the same as circuses. The animal welfare groups say that the other animals go home after each show but this is untrue, they move from show to show throughout the summer season just like the circuses.

The circuses have 7 mandatory inspections per year by Vets. The others do not have any inspections. However the Activities Involving Animals 2019 Regulations, known as the AIAL, should counteract this, even though it seems the trainers licensed under the AIAL are only inspected once every 3 years.

The footfall of people visiting circuses with animals has not changed and those people also have the right to visit and witness animals in circuses as this is their freedom of choice. The consultation on a ban had responses of 10,572 with a further 2,500 post cards all provided by the welfare groups. However this is quoted by many MPs during the 2nd reading debate as 97% or similar of the British public, some not stating that this was those of the public who responded. Is this not impartial and fair. These figures are miniscule when you take into account that the population of the UK is over 66 million.

The 5 year review on the circus regulations stated that no problems were found and that defra put aside money to use in the expected case of the having to take circuses to court for bad welfare. The review states that this never happened and government still has the money. The circuses passed every test and inspection and did not break any law and the welfare of the circus animals was exemplary.

The government spent over £150.000 in three years on trying to sort the Dangerous Dog Act yet dogs are still killing children. The circuses cost the government and the tax payer nothing at all as the circuses pay for everything. The circuses are happy to be inspected and licensed they want to keep the licensing system. The circus animals have not killed anybody.

The circuses are licensed under the circus license, the AIAL license and the DWA license.

The claim that it is unethical to let wild animals like camels perform tricks to make people laugh. Circus audiences do not laugh at the camels that only walk into the centre of the tent and put their front feet on a pedestal, they do not perform anything. The children look in awe and then want to visit them after the show when the keepers talk to the children and answer all their questions. Children learn more about animals when visiting the animals at a circus than they do at a zoo.

Children do laugh at the ducks which become unruly and make the presenter look silly and also at the small pony who shakes his head to say no when the presenter asks him to walk around and will only do so when the presenter feeds him a titbit.

The circuses are also a vehicle for learning and training as Jolly’s circus has an eye veterinary clinic visiting the circus to inspect and train their trainees on how to handle and deal with wild animals. This is something that cannot be done in a zoo as it is impossible to handle zoo animals without anatheasia. Whereas circus animals are handled on a daily basis so are easy for students to work with and to learn how animals work and react under veterinary inspections

Science and evidence should guide policy making, not tittle-tattle by the animal rights, why don’t the MPS go and visit the two circuses to get the evidence first hand?

The MPs and the civil servants are bound by the professional standards as laid down in the 7 Nolan Principles, fair and unbiased working standards are the mainstay of the principles but this seems to have gone out the window with regards to what appears to be a witch hunt and the way it is done is neither ethical nor morally correct. This ban is against the 7 principles and also the Ministerial and Civil Servant Codes.

The two circuses are family circuses, the Jolly’s are a Christian family, they keep their family together and keep within the law on all matters, they get married in a CoE church and their children are also baptised as Christians. Their children and grandchildren go to school in the winter at their home farm location and when travelling have a mobile tutor every week who follows their home school curriculum. They pay their taxes and obey every animal welfare law. Their ethics of running a business and keeping families together is very high. This is how they treat their animals too. I would like to suggest that government would not ban them if they were a Muslim family.

Banning on ethics is a dream idea by the animal welfare groups, no welfare problems so let us find something else. It is a start on a very small business, others will follow.

Animals have no concept of demeaning or being part of an exploitation regime, they want to be looked after well, to keep their bodies working which makes sure their wellbeing and welfare is taken care of, they want to be fed the correct diet, have somewhere safe and secure to rest and sleep and be happy with the human care they receive. They do find this on a circus and all the inspection reports agree.

There is no empirical evidence provided by the welfare groups to even suggest that the owners of animals in circuses today in the UK do any of the unjustified claims of torture, force, intimidation, cruelty upon their animals.

However there is evidence provided in the 7 mandatory inspections to counter claim this over the last 7 years of the Wild Animals in Circuses Act to prove that the circuses licensed under that act are ethical in their treatment of their animals and also comply with the law regarding their businesses.

The circuses wish to keep the circus licensing regulations which work very well and provide a clear window on how wild animals are worked in UK circuses.

I am happy to provide further information if desired and also work with government on this and future animal welfare bills.

May 2019


Prepared 23rd May 2019