Trouble at the Big Top

June 16, 2011, 5:53 PM GMT+0

More than two thirds of people would support a ban on the involvement of wild animals in circuses, our poll for Channel 5 has discovered.

As the RSPCA continues its campaign to make the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ban animal use in circuses, our poll has found that just two in five would oppose the ban, with the majority in support of an end to animals used for performance.

  • According to our poll, 67% of Brits would support a ban of wild animals being used in circuses
  • While just under two in five (19%) would oppose the ban
  • And 14% are undecided on the matter

‘Outright ban not needed’?

The poll comes as British agriculture minister Jim Paice has ruled out a ban on the use of performing animals. He stated that there was no strong evidence that a ban was needed on welfare grounds, and that there are ‘other means of protecting animals other than an outright ban’. Paice did predict that a new licensing and inspection regime could see diminishing numbers of animals used in circuses.

Last month Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman similarly announced that there would be no ban, but promised to enforce ‘high welfare standards’. During a debate on the issue, however, MPs from all parties called for a ban, led by Labour's Robert Flello, MP for Stoke-on-Trent South.

On the charity’s website, Senior RSPCA scientist Dr Ros Clubb states ‘the days when it was acceptable to haul wild animals around…to entertain…are long gone’; it seems that much of the British public would agree.