bear performance CAPS

Then: Hundreds of animals were used in UK circuses when CAPS was founded

CAPS has worked alongside grassroots activists and campaign partners from other animal protection organisations since we were founded in 1957 to see an end to the exploitation of animals in the big top. The circus campaign remains the cornerstone of our work for animals.

Campaigning to see an end to the use of all animals in circuses, we are committed to continue campaigning until all UK* circuses are free of animal suffering.


Key campaign developments

February 2015: Conservative MP, Will Quince puts forward a Ten Minute Rule Bill for a ban on wild animals in circuses. This bill so far has been accepted for a second reading on 4th March.

2015: Repeated attempts by Labour MP, Jim Fitzpatrick to put forward a Ten Minute Rule Bill for a ban on wild animals in circuses, which was blocked every time by a few MPs, notably Conservative Andrew Rosindell,

July 2014: Call to David Cameron and Nick Clegg to bring in the promised ban as a matter of urgency [READ]

June 2014: Anger as proposed circus ban Bill is omitted from Queen’s Speech, leading to fears that it will not be introduced before promised end 2015 deadline. [READ MORE]

January 2014: Scottish Government opens public consultation on the use of wild animals in circuses in Scotland. [READ MORE]

October 2013: Government confirms ban on the use of all wild animal species is to go ahead in England by the end of 2015. [READ MORE]

July 2013: Wild animal circus ban threatened by ill-conceived recommendation from Government advisors. [READ MORE]

June 2013: Scotland confirms that public consultation on wild animals in circuses will be carried out and Wales states intention to join England in banning wild animal performances. [READ MORE]

April 2013: Draft ban on the use of wild animals in circuses published by Government [READ MORE].

March 2012: CAPS reveals that visitor numbers to animal circuses halved between 2007 and 2011. [READ MORE]

March 2012: Government confirms intention to ban wild animals in English circuses. [READ MORE]

December 2012: CAPS and campaign partners threaten Government with High Court action over continued delay on introduction of a ban on wild animals in circuses. [READ MORE]

January 2012: Paulo’s Circus Americano goes animal free! [READ MORE]

September 2011: CAPS gives evidence to Scottish Government in support of a ban on wild animals in circuses. [READ MORE]

2011: Animal circuses at an all time low in 2011.

2010: 95% of DEFRA consultation respondents support a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.

2009: Hundreds of local authorities exercising a ban on the use of public grounds for animal circuses.

Next Steps

We are delighted that the Government announced in early 2013 that draft legislation to ban wild animals in circuses in England would come into force in December 2015. Later in the year, there were threats to the ban but, thanks to an intense period of campaigning, the proposals to bring an end to the use of wild animals in circuses is back on track. This is a huge achievement of all those that have contributed to the campaign. [READ MORE]

Now: There is still work to be done to ensure that all animals are freed from UK circuses

Now: There is still work to be done to ensure that all animals are freed from UK circuses

We will continue to work closely with The Born Free Foundation, British Veterinary Association, and the RSPCA.

We will also continue to work to support Government in the formal enactment of the Bill and the Born Free Foundation and the RSPCA reiterated their pledge to offer to find safe homes for life for all wild animals currently being used in English circuses.

The ban will make the use of wild animals (defined as animals that are not normally domesticated in the UK) illegal in England.

In the interim we will continue to look at wild animal circuses inspection reports under the government’s licensing regime. We strongly believe these will not protect wild animals in circuses and the first inspection reports show that neither performance or training were assessed during licensing process. [READ MORE]

We will also continue to campaign for the end of domestic animals in circuses, as they will not be covered by the ban and can therefore still be used.

Watch and share video “Animals are not clowns”

This video, produced in 2010, takes a look at the animal circus industry in Britain. Whilst there are currently no elephants in English circuses, both wild and domesticated animals continue to perform in circuses across the UK and Ireland:

Get Involved!

Please support our work for animals still suffering in circuses by taking one or more of the following actions:

Vote with your feet

One of the easiest ways that you can support our work is by pledging not to visit circuses which use animals.

Currently, the following circuses touring the UK use animals in their shows:

Peter Jolly’s Circus
Circus Mondao
Giffords Circus
Zippos Circus
Duffy’s Circus (Northern Ireland)
DareDevil Circus
Mr Fips’ Wonder Circus
Robert Brothers Circus
Circus Vegas
Circus Gerbola (Ireland)
Fossetts Circus (Ireland)
Circus Tyanna

As shows change annually, there may be other circuses currently using animals. Please always call ahead before attending a show to make sure the circus you want to visit is animal-free. If you have animal welfare concerns about a specific circus, please click HERE to download and complete the attached form and send it to us.

Organise a demonstration

Every year there are dozens of peaceful demos held outside circuses across the UK. These are organised by our supporters, and they are a great way to raise awareness and keep the pressure on! The circuses travel all over the country, so it’s likely there will be demos near you at some point. Get in touch if you’d like us to let you know about any local demos.

Get involvedSome areas of the country simply don’t have enough local campaigners to organise circus demos. Could you organise enough people to hold a demo? If so, please get in touch. We’re always looking for new local groups to join our circus campaign. If you’ve never organised a demo before, don’t worry. We can offer you all the advice and support you’ll need, as well as materials to use on the day. We can also promote your actions to our network to rally support!

READ MORE information on how to organise a successful demo.

Hold an information stall

If there are no circuses in your area at the moment, why not organise a town centre info stall instead? All you’ll need is a table, some helpers, and a smile; we’ll provide the rest. Simply get in touch to order materials and let us know when your stall is, and we’ll make sure you have everything you need. If you’ve never organised a stall before and would like some advice, get in touch in the first instance.


You can raise awareness and help captive animals without even leaving the comfort of your home or office. Many people now get their news from social networking sites. All you need to do is make sure you click the icons at the bottom of the screen to follow CAPS on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and share our stories, news and videos with your friends.

Letter writing

Is an animal circus coming to your town? Would you like to do something about it?

One of the most effective ways to campaign is to work with local landowners and councils to effect change.

Please click here to find out more about the value of letter writing and to download handy letter templates.

Contacting local newspapers

Writing a letter to your local newspaper is a great way of raising support for CAPS. Click here for advice and letter templates. If your letter gets printed, please buy an extra copy of the paper (or find a link to the online version) and send it to us so we can see!

Donate to our work

We rely on the generosity of people like to ensure that our work for animals can continue. Please consider donating to our work to bring an end to animal circuses in the UK.

* If you live in Northern Ireland, please check our Ring of Cruelty Ireland page for more information on animal circuses. Work in Northern Ireland crosses over the Irish and UK campaigns.

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