The Great British Circus has placed an advertisement in Horse and Hound to sell its trained zebra, horse and camel acts.
According to an interview in the magazine with the owner, Martin Lacey, the decision to sell is related to the UK government’s commitment ultimately to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, even though timescale has been set for this.
Mr Lacey is quoted as saying that he had received several enquiries from people wanting individual horses, but would prefer them to go as a group, as they had worked together all their lives. (Despite this he also mentions that the rest of the zebra’s family have already gone to a private collector, along with some camels.) The article makes no mention of the fate of the circus’s tigers
It is hard to say for certain that the sale of these animals represents progress –the news would have been more welcome if the circus had decided to retire the animals to a good home after their years on the road, or to accept the offers made by the Born Free Foundation and the RSPCA to find good homes for them. The decision to sell is a reminder that, at the end of the day, circus animals are objects of commerce, and these animals could still find themselves touring round Europe with another circus.
As one sceptical commentator on the H&H website put it: “Mr Lacey says his animals are 'like family' - is it normal to put members of your family up for sale?”
Good question. The answer probably depends on whether it is normal to make elephants stand on stools, or tigers jump through hoops...
Meanwhile in Scotland, OneKind has been responding to comments by another circus, relating the recent decision by East Ayrshire Council not to let its land to circuses with any animals to the activities of animal rights extremists and “domestic terrorists”. This begins to look like an industry that knows it has no reasoned argument to make, preferring instead to resort to name-calling. Yet another reason for government both north and south of the border to get on with banning the use of wild animals in travelling circuses
As we always say, we will be the first to welcome the circuses if they return with human-only acts. And it looks as if that day has just become a little bit closer.