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Originally Posted: 20 August 2009
End Cruelty to Circus Elephants in the UK
From Animal Defenders
Tell Jim Fitzpatrick of DEFRA [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] to honor the UK government's promise made three years ago to ban wild animals in circuses.
17 Smith Square
London England W1P 3JR
All animals in circuses are compromised by the traveling and temporary nature of the circus, with severe confinement inevitable and physical abuse commonplace. They have no legal protection, as there are no regulations to protect them under the Animal Welfare Act. Bolivia has recently become the first country in the world to ban the use of both wild and domestic animals and circuses. The UK should follow their lead and implement a ban as soon as possible.
On Wednesday, 19 August, Animal Defenders International released shocking footage of violence and confinement at the Great British Circus. The footage, which can be viewed on You Tube, shows a staggeringly high level of casual violence – elephants are brutally hit in the face with a metal elephant hook, a broom and a pitchfork; a worker cruelly twists an elephant’s tail; and the frightened animals retreat and cry out when struck or hooked.
Limited for long periods of the day in a small tent, the elephants are also chained tightly every night for up to eleven hours with only enough room to take one step forward or backwards. When the circus moves to a new location, the elephants are confined to their cramped transporter and forced to wait until their tent is erected, resulting in many hours being shut away.
The level of disturbed, abnormal behavior exhibited by the elephants – such as rocking, swaying and head bobbing – is horrifying. These pointless, repetitive movements are known as stereotypic behavior. Sonja, a wild-caught African elephant, was observed for 11 hours and spent nearly 40% of this time displaying stereotypic behavior; the two Asian elephants also showed similar disturbing movements. Animal behaviorists believe that this shows that the animal is suffering and is not able to cope with its situation.
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