Irish circuses could become 'dumping ground' for animals

Campaign groups say British legislation could see wild animals shipped to State


Ireland could become a “dumping ground” for wild animals as Westminster prepares legislation outlawing their use in circuses, animal rights organisations have warned.

Draft legislation published last week will prohibit English circuses using wild animals, i.e. animals not normally domesticated in the United Kingdom, in performances from December 1st 2015.

While the legislation was welcomed by campaign groups, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and The Captive Animals’ Protection Society have said English operations could now attempt to offload their animals on Irish circuses.

In February, Animal Defenders International reported that Great British Circus owner Martin Lacey shipped a number of tigers to Ireland to perform with the Courtney Brothers’ Circus.

The ISPCA said it hoped the UK ban on wild animals in circuses “does not result in other wild animals being shipped to Irish circuses.”

The British-based Captive Animals’ Protection Society called for co-operation between England and Ireland to prevent the transfer of animals from one country to the other.

“What is required is a joined up approach,” said the society’s director Liz Tyson. “We cannot celebrate that the suffering of wild animals in circuses is almost over here in England, and that circuses with domesticated animals are on the decrease, when we know those self-same animals will continue to be exploited just a stone’s throw away in Ireland.”

Ms Tyson said in recent years British audiences have started to turn away from circuses that include animals in their performances. According to her this has prompted some operations to remove animals from their acts, sometimes selling them on to Irish circuses.