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."

Monday, 15 February 2016

5 Ways YOU Can Save the Circus Today

If you want to see this circus lion act now!

Christopher Chope’s speech to the Commons last week was the first indication that the government could be changing its mind about banning wild animals from the British circus. That doesn’t mean it has changed its mind.  Will Quince, who is trying to introduce a ban as a Private Members Bill, is a Conservative, too.

What Chope has provided is a unique opportunity to show public support for his view and convince the government that the current licensing scheme has rendered a ban unnecessary.

It’s a chance for every circus fan to stand up and make a difference by taking the following five steps.

1 Email Chris Chope and give him your support for supporting the circus and opposing a ban. It’s vital to show him and the Prime Minister that the public is behind him. Reach him on and cc it to

2 Write to your own MP, stating your support for Chope and asking him or her to oppose a ban when the bill gets a second reading on March 4. The easiest way to is go to where you only have to put in your postcode to email your local representatives.

3 Write to the papers. Chris Chope’s speech has barely been reported, so raise awareness by writing a letter to your local and regional newspapers, and your favourite national daily paper, stating why you believe he is right to oppose a ban. If you need ideas, include any or all of the points in my Huffington Post article 10 Reasons The Show Must Go On. Writing to papers makes a huge difference. Peta and ADI hit every paper every day with press releases to stimulate coverage for their cause. UK circuses don’t have the resources to do that, but YOU, their fans and supporters, do. A lot of fans doing a little each, will add up to a lot of exposure.

Important: Include in any letters to papers and MPs a reference point where people can go to find out more, such as the Save UK Circus Facebook page or the Astley’s Legacy - Circus The Truth blog. The important thing is that you provide a next step where people who may be encountering the issue for the first time can find out more and see that a lot of people feel the same way.

4 Send a selfie to a women’s mag. The UK has half a dozen weekly women’s mags such as Woman’s Weekly and Take A Break that feature reader’s letters - a photo and 30-50 words. Send a pic of yourself riding a camel or meeting Thomas Chipperfield and a few lines about how much you enjoyed seeing some circus animals. If a few get published, that puts out a positive image of animals in circuses to readerships of between 100,000 to 500,000 - and they’ll pay you £25 - £50 too!

5 Become a citizen journalist. Anyone can blog on the Huffington Post or post news items on Blasting News and reach a far wider audience than you will by saying the same things to your friends on Facebook. Simply send a pro-circus opinion piece of 500 - 800 words, or a review of a show, to . If you have any sort of expertise in circus or animal welfare, they will be particularly keen to include you. Alternatively, if you know an industry insider ask and persuade them to become a Huffington Post blogger. Maybe they don’t know they could. Perhaps they don’t realise that blogging will raise their business profile as well as promoting the cause - so tell them about it. As an example, check out the posts by Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance. If he can blog pro hunting, others can blog pro circus animals.

All of the above takes time and effort... but hours are wasted talking to the converted on social media when you could be making a real difference by talking to hundreds of thousands of the unconverted on mass media.

If you care about the future of the circus and want to make a difference, give up Facebook for one evening a week and spend that time writing to newspapers and MPs.

Do not leave it to others, but do encourage others to do the same, by sharing this post with them on Facebook and asking them to act.

Do it now, when it will count the most, because your circus needs YOU.


  1. This is a brilliant list. I have already written to Christopher Chope. Not had any response yet. I will get onto some of the other steps today. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for your comment. For too long, animal rights groups have dominated the debate on this subject while the circus industry has stayed quiet. Thomas Chipperfield is the first trainer to really talk to the media and he's changing public perceptions immensely. But he's only one man and there's only so much positive coverage he can achieve on his own. If his fans join in then as a group they can counter the publicity put out by his enemies and show the government that the circus has a lot of supporters in the general public.

  3. In the USA we've done a lot of your suggestions numbered 1, 2, and 3. It's #4 and #5 that we need to work on. That and we sure need to work on our initiative to sign 5,000 participating members within FIVE years!

    1. Number Four is a good one because it's one the AR activists can't do. The mags want positive messages and protests are negative by nature.

  4. A great piece here by Ringling ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson. If Jonathan can write a pro-circus blog on the Huffington Post why are no other circus people doing it?