Wild Animals in Circuses (No.2) Bill

Written evidence submitted by the Lacey Fund (WAC17)

Our names are Alexander Lacey and Martin Lacey Jnr we are sending this e-mail on behalf of the Lacey Fund, a registered charity that provides financial support to all sorts of facilities that provide for animals in human care and where suitable to organizations that help animals in their natural habitat. We are British Citizens currently working in Germany as lion and tiger trainers. We have spent everyday of the last 26 years caring for both lions and tigers and we think it’s quite relevant and fair to say we have a far better and deeper hands on understanding of lions and tigers than any vet or animal rights activist that has spent no time at all with tigers and lions at such close quarters. We find it pointless to submit any more evidence to prove welfare standards can be met for lions and tigers in traveling circuses as it has been ignored in this bill due to the decision to base a ban on ethical grounds only.

After reading the minutes of the last parliamentary debate regarding the ban on the use of wild animals in circus it is blatantly obvious that the language used by all politicians involved is the same old rhetoric that we have listened to from animal rights groups for the last 30 years or so. These politicians have been manipulated by half truths and misinformation. It’s also openly recognized that these groups donate hundreds of thousands of pounds to governments. In England through the PAL (Political Animal Lobby) who then distribute to various political parties. Circuses have no chance against big rich organizations and that is not how democratic politics should work, persuaded by the highest bidder.

This bill is nothing short of a witch hunt with the aim to ban wild animals in circuses no matter what. The fact that it has now been forwarded based on ethics rather than any hard animal welfare evidence is astonishing.

It is nothing short of a disgrace how this industry is treated by governments and mainstream media, the rights of a minority who are lawfully carrying out their livelihoods are not being respected and all this in a day and age when we live in a so called democratic society where we are taught to respect different cultures, religions and races. There are very good animal trainers and very good people in the circus business who have proved through past inspections that their animals can be adequately cared for and adhere to the high regulations of the current licensing scheme. This bill is nothing short of discrimination.

Politicians are there to be impartial and serve all of us in society, because of the constant pressure of animal rights groups pushing their agenda they have caved. These groups will not change their opinion no matter what however politicians are expected to be rational in their opinion when faced with facts.

Some politicians state bans in other countries loosely throwing around untruths and misinformation. Both Italy and France have not banned and just like the misinformation of animal rights groups this false statement has been noted as part of the debate.

There are fewer circuses in the UK that use wild animals not due to public demand but due to fear of criminal damage by animal rights groups. We have been spat at, hit and bullied by these groups since as long as we can remember. We recall their bully boy tactics and damage to circus equipment, advertising material, throwing paint and acid on circus vehicles, throwing bricks through local shop keepers windows for displaying circus posters. Then there are the illegal bans by local councils banning circuses with animals from performing on council land. This forces circuses to perform outside the city limits. It’s no wonder many circuses chose to omit animals from their performances. If we were any other minority being treated this way in this day and age there would be an uproar.

The public consultation is constantly referred to throughout the debate. It was made up of loaded questions with only one outcome in mind, animal rights groups knew about this consultation and shared it all over the internet on their webpages and it was possible to make numerous submissions from the same address.

Part of the debate stated:

"Nor will the ban lead to the banning of other animal exhibits such as falconry displays, zoos, farm parks or the sort of displays that we might see at summer fêtes in our constituencies. Even though such activities may move animal displays from one place to another, they do not fall within the ordinary interpretation of a circus and will therefore not meet the definition of a travelling circus. We do not wish to ban them, because we acknowledge that they have a role to play in education. The important distinction is that circuses move from A to B to C, whereas other displays may go to one place, come back to a home base and go to another place some time later-they are a very different activity."

They are not different at all if an animal travels from one point to the next it has travelled regardless of where the destination is.

It’s laughable that the description of wild animal means - an animal of a kind which is not commonly domesticated in Great Britain. Then go on to say that falconry displays will not be affected by this bill when most falconry birds used in Britain were taken from the wild, in Britain, or taken from abroad and imported.

We can positively say that none of the politicians supporting this bill have visited up to date and well run circuses. As the animals do not perform "silly tricks" instead their intelligence and relationship to their human carers is demonstrated and enthusiastically accepted by today’s audiences they do not live in small cramped cages but comfortable, spacious and well suited purpose built living areas.

Please explain how our family has not contributed to the conservation of tigers and lions when we have cared for and provided for over 500 big cats over the last 50 years. We now have such a wide range of bloodlines that we can go on breeding these big cats for the next 50 years without any outside help whatsoever. All of our cats live twice as long as their wild counterparts just as they do in a zoo, however our cats are still very active and in great physical shape at these old ages which speaks volumes for the life they live and the care that they are given.

This bill does nothing for animal welfare but merely shuts the door in the face of people that are dedicated to their animals and to facilities that can afford the enormous expense of caring for their animals properly.

The parliamentary debate talks about conservation of species and how we should look after animals in the wild. It’s extremely naive and short sighted to think that can be done by banning left right and center. Humans have destroyed the wild and there is no longer hope for most species unless they are kept in human care. The argument to stop keeping animals in human care is finished we no longer have that luxury, instead the discussion should be what are the best ways to look after animals in human care.

We fear what the animal rights fanatics will do next. Dr Lisa Cameron pledged her support and thanks for PETA then goes onto talk about conservation????? Is she really that ill informed. Take a look at PETA’s websites their aim is to completely abolish any animal - human contact. That includes closing down zoos, aquariums even owning pets domesticated or otherwise.

Simon Hoare refers to how a cartoon reflects life for animals in a circus, it’s just beyond ridiculous.

Luke Pollard states:

"The review of the science on the welfare of wild animals in travelling circuses by Professor Stephen Harris, which was commissioned by the Welsh Government and published in April 2016, provides strong evidence that wild animals in travelling circuses not only suffer poor welfare, but do not have a "life worth living". Every circus animal matters. That is why we should have no wild animals in our circuses anymore. The report built on existing evidence that shows that the welfare needs of non-domesticated wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus-a conclusion with which the Opposition agree".

Stephen Harris’s report was a farce and the Harris report was thrown out by the Welsh government. We ask you to watch the following link:

In conclusion. There is no solid scientific evidence available that indicates the welfare needs of wild animals cannot be met in a travelling circus environment. The review of the Department’s circus regulations found the regulations were successful in establishing an effective licensing scheme to promote and monitor high welfare standards for wild animals in travelling circuses in England.

This has been completely ignored in this bill and we are sure it’s blatant one sidedness and biased is on some level illegal.

Alexander Lacey and Martin Lacey Jnr.

May 2019


Prepared 23rd May 2019