THE Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) have come out in full support of animal-act circuses being banned in Limerick and are also urging Minister Simon Coveney to put a halt to the practise nationwide.
The animal welfare charity is alarmed that a camel managed to escape from Courtney Brothers Circus in Fermoy last month causing a danger to road users and putting the camel’s welfare at risk. ISPCA chief executive Dr Andrew Kelly insists that this latest incident demonstrates that circuses simply cannot care for their animals appropriately and not only pose a danger to the public but also compromise the welfare of the animals.
The ISPCA is now calling on the Department of Agriculture to take immediate action and are also planning to write to Limerick City and County Council to show their support for a ban on animal-act circuses.
“Despite many countries having banned the use of wild animals in circuses on animal welfare or ethical grounds, Ireland still allows this out-dated practice to continue. Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals as they simply cannot provide a suitable environment for these animals,” Dr Kelly claimed.
“Transported in cramped ‘beast-wagons’ around the country, moving every few days and then forcing them to perform unnatural behaviours for human ‘entertainment’ should no longer be permissible in the 21st century,” he added.
Circuses in Ireland are touring with sea lions, tigers, lions, camels and other wild animals. England and Wales have promised a ban in 2015 and Scotland is currently holding a public consultation.
“Compounding the animal welfare issues is the fact that the Irish public are subsidising this cruelty through generous grants from the Arts Council, with one wild animal circus receiving €20,000 this year. It is time for Ireland to consign this out-dated practice to the history books,” said Dr Kelly.
A recent survey commissioned by the ISPCA and the Born Free Foundation and supported by the Captive Animals Protection Society and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals showed that while 84 per cent of Irish adults have attended a circus in the past, only 33 per cent agreed that wild animals in circuses are kept in an environment in which their welfare needs can be fully met.
Half of those people surveyed think it is unacceptable for wild animals to perform as part of their show, while only 28 per cent thought it acceptable. In addition, more than half (52 per cent) of those surveyed agreed that tax–payers money should not be used to fund circuses that use wild animals. Less than a third (32 per cent) found it acceptable.
Marketing manager of Fossett’s Circus, Charles O’Brien, told the Limerick Post that as the ‘national circus” it abhors animal cruelty and would fully support any sanctions or penalties imposed by the relevant authorities upon the circuses involved.
“We do not, however, feel that a total ban on animal presentation is the best way to ensuring the wellbeing of the animals concerned. Properly drafted legislation, effectively enforced, coupled with stringent penalties for anyone found to be in breach of such legislation is the only way forward,” Mr O’Brien insists.