Wild Animals in Circuses (No.2) Bill

Written evidence submitted by the Self Help Group for Farmers, Pet Owners and Others experiencing difficulties with the RSPCA (The SHG) (WAC25)

About The SHG

The Self Help Group for Farmers, Pet Owners and Others experiencing difficulties with the RSPCA (The SHG) runs a national help line in England and Wales for people who have run into difficulties with animal related problems.

Our national help line number is 0744 99 89 411 and our website can be found at


Concerns with the proposed legislation

1. It is the position of The SHG that restrictive legislation that removes the right to work and the right to own property should only be imposed when there is evidence of a harm that needs alleviating. The government has admitted that this is not the case. There is absolutely no evidence that wild animals in circuses in the UK suffer purely as a result of being in the circus or as a result of travelling.

2. Had there been any evidence of such suffering it is clear that the powerful and wealthy Animal Rights organisations such as the RSPCA would have prosecuted using the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA). Any suffering, including mental suffering, is sufficient to found a prosecution under the AWA which does not specify a minimum degree of suffering. The Act even allows for animals to be seized if their circumstances are such that the animals might suffer in future.

3. The lack of any such prosecutions which, if successful, would have effectively ended the use of wild animals in circuses speaks for itself.

4. If there is no harm to heal then the proposed legislation is an unwarranted interference in the lives and work of people in the UK.

5. We note that the government is bringing this legislation on ethical grounds and that they admit there are no welfare issues created by the keeping of wild animals in circuses. But ethics are a means of determining right and wrong for society, and what better way of so determining than to choose the path of least harm

6. If there is no harm inherent in the keeping of animals in travelling circuses then one has to ask what harm will be done by imposing a ban.

7. The animals themselves will have to leave the homes and the lifestyle they have known from infanthood. They will consider themselves to have been abandoned by the people they know and love.

8. Their owners and keepers will lose contact with animals that have been members of their families. They will lose their livelihoods.

9. The circuses will lose some of their main attractions and therefore audience figures will drop along with takings. Some may go out of business.

10. People who wish to take their children to see the circus animals will be denied the opportunity. Watching them on television has no comparison.

11. Never seeing these animals in real life will lead to a lack of empathy for them and possibly a drop in support for conservation.

12. All of this in order to end an activity that government itself admits does no harm?

13. Worse, this legislation will reward those groups that have regularly presented misinformation to the public.

14. It will reward campaigners who have not always been peaceful and who have trespassed and generally caused distress, not only to circus staff, but to those who wish to visit the circus with their children without being publicly harangued for their choices.

15. The message it will give is that anyone who disapproves of the actions of others is entitled to end their lifestyle irrespective of the fact that it does no harm.

16. The campaigners will simply move on to the next target, the next batch of businesses to destroy. They do not care about the lives they will have ruined, both human and animal.

17. This is not ethical legislation, it is harmful legislation and should not be enacted.

May 2019


Prepared 23rd May 2019