Peter Jolly’s circus shows ignorance of animal needs, say experts

A telling passage in documentation submitted to GovernmentNVE00002 by UK circus, Peter Jolly’s, as part of their application for a licence to use wild animals demonstrates a “complete lack of appreciation for even minimum standards of animal behaviour” a CAPS veterinary advisor has said.

Inspection reports for Jolly’s and Circus Mondao, the two remaining circuses which continue to use wild animals in their shows, were released in the last few days. This followed a five month dispute between CAPS and government department, Defra, after the information was originally withheld from interested parties. CAPS researchers have been analysing the documents and came across a disturbing statement made by a member of circus staff in reference to one of the circus’ camels which read:

“Camels are pretty stoic about their personal conditions and can survive with very little or a very lot [sic], they do not make decisions about their requirements or desire anything other than a diet that sustains them, housing that is minimal to their needs and grazing that gives them daily movement and sustenance”

CAPS sought expert opinion on this view and was told by a veterinary advisor:

“The aim of good standards of animal welfare in captivity is to make animals comfortable and happy in their environment. Referring to an animal’s ability to survive poor standards of welfare provision as “stoic” does not mean that they are happy with these poor standards; merely that they can survive them. This attitude shows a complete lack of appreciation of the aims of modern and evolving provisions for even minimum standards of animal behaviour”.

Leading animal behaviourist, and author of numerous books on animal sentience, Marc Bekoff, added:

“Camels are incredibly sensitive and emotional animals. Sometimes they don’t openly express what they are feeling but we know that they, like all other mammals, experience deep pain and suffering as well as joy and happiness. Because they often appear to be stoic people completely misunderstand what they are feeling. Camels want to be treated with respect and live in peace and safety and should not be kept in circuses where they cannot possibly have even a reasonably good life”.

CAPS revealed last week that the licensing regime which is currently in place for circuses that continue to exploit wild animals in their shows failed to assess training and performance in any way before licences were granted. This is in spite of the fact that the treatment of animals during training and performance presents one of the most serious welfare concerns with regard to their use in these types of business.

Said CAPS Director, Liz Tyson:

“The view expressed by the circus is ignorant of both the need for welfare provision and the complex emotional and behavioural needs of the animals in question. There are still two years remaining until the ban for wild animals is introduced so we must continue to campaign for those animals who remain in circuses right now”.

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