LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Royal reprieve for circus animals

The Queen's Speech
Fans of wild animals in circuses breathed a
sigh of relief as the much-trailed
Wild Animals in Circuses Bill
failed to materialise

In 2012, Animal Welfare Minister Lord Taylor announced that the government intended to ban wild animals from British big tops by December 2015. Animals rights groups criticised ministers for delaying the legislation to bring in the ban.

Last week, it was announced in The Times and, indeed, on government websites, that the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill would be announced in today's Queen's Speech to Parliament. The speech sets out the legislative agenda for the coming session.

When Her Majesty made her speech at the opening of Parliament, however, the Bill wasn't among the 11 pieces of legislation announced. Clearly the coalition felt putting a 5p tax on our supermarket bags and frakking beneath our houses was a higher priority than a law banning less than 30 animals in just two circuses - Peter Jolly's and Circus Mondao.

That means the ban now won't come before Parliament before next year's general election - and if the government changes in that time, who knows what its future may be?

Update: June 6.

An interesting article in the New Statesman suggested David Cameron personally nixed the ban. The paper speculated it was because he shares his Cotswold constituency with Britain's leading supplier of trained animals to the film and TV industry Amazing Animals. Could it be the Prime Minister is a circus fan?

Or could his last minute intervention have been influenced by my timely interview with Britain's last lion trainer, Thomas Chipperfield in last Saturday's top Tory read, The Daily TelegraphClick here to read it.

Should circuses have animals? Read my personal journey through this ever-thorny issue in Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed of Running Away With the Circus.

Click here to read half a dozen 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Did you know the first calls to ban animals in the circus were made exactly 100-years ago in 1914? The Phenomenon of celebrities endorsing animal rights campaigns is nothing new wither. The writer George Bernard Shaw and actress Sybil Thorndike were just two who gave their support to the issue early last century, while pulp novelist Jack London gave his name to a direct action protest group, the Jack London Club. To read the complete 100-year history of opposition to animals in the circus, click here


  1. Douglas, I am setting up a Circus Research Network and am writing to ask whether you would like to hear about this. If so please e-mail

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