Allery Treatment News

Neutral Science Okays The Circus

April 03, 2017

UK - I am the former Chairman of a group representing the circus community in several years of discussions with DEFRA on the question of circus animals. It's a great frustration that the views of the circus community are almost universally ignored by the media; I am grateful to be given a voice here.

In our discussions, scientific evidence was submitted by groups on both sides of the debate. The conclusions of the six scientists who reviewed the evidence were published as part of the so-called 'Radford Report' of November 2007, still available via the DEFRA website. The six included academics who are often heard to speak against circuses on behalf of animal campaign organisations. It is noteworthy that all six specialists jointly concluded that there is no scientific reason to ban any species of animal from circuses, and that circuses are as capable of looking after their animals as are zoos and safari parks.

That's the opinion to be listened to; because it is science-based, it is politically neutral, without partisan bias on either side.

Naturally, when film is released such as we've seen recently of an elephant-keeper abusing an animal at a circus, people are upset and angry. The circus community is angry, too; this is not how we treat animals! Such cases are rare - there have been only six prosecutions of circus people in almost 200 years.

Throughout our DEFRA discussions, we asked for strict government Regulation to be imposed. That's not because we believe we're doing something wrong; neutral inspectors confirm our standards are good overall. But we wish to make sure no stupid individual can treat our animals like that again: like everyone else, we'd like the elephant-abuser caught and locked up.

This government has promised to impose strict Regulation. Animals are an essential part of a traditional circus; circuses are acknowledged by Arts bodies as an important part of popular culture. Rather than rage about the politics, we need to think calmly about ensuring the welfare of all circus animals. By protecting the animals, following standards laid down by zoological experts and verified by DEFRA vets, we're also protecting the circus.

© Chris Barltrop 2011