Animal Welfare: Banning Wild Animals from Circuses Essay

Animal Welfare: Banning Wild Animals from Circuses Essay

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In accordance with the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012, a travelling circus is defined as ‘a circus in which travels from place to place for the purpose of giving performances, displays or exhibitions’ and ‘a circus as part of which wild animals are kept or introduced (whether for the purpose of performance, display or otherwise).
The circus is said to have originated in the 1700s, with a one-time Sergeant Major in the 15th Light Dragoons, Philip Astley performing on horseback, demonstrating equestrian expertise in London based shows, (Broonman & Legge, 1999; Stoddart, 2000). It was Astleys’ equestrian performances that influenced many others to establish similar shows over Europe in the nineteenth century, with new permanent buildings being built for the performances later developing in the early twentieth century to circuses tents to allow the shows to be taken to audiences that would otherwise not have seen the show. Other developments allowed European based circuses to travel from the Far East to South America, Africa and Australasia, (European Circus Association , 2014).
Although there were animal welfare protests against performing animal shows, the First World War was a staple moment of protest against the shows, with the Performing Animals Defence League forming in 1914 encouraging public concern on animal cruelty, (Wilson, 2009).
Currently there are three main legislations affecting and protecting the welfare of wild animals in travelling circuses, The Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the performing Animals (regulation) Act 1925, (DEFRA,2013; Rees,2013). The legislations in place recognise that both wild a...

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...erlands. Journal of agricultural environmental ethics, Volume 26, pp. 523-535.
PETA, 2013. Circuses. [Online]
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[Accessed 03 02 2014].
Rees, P. A., 2013. Dictionary of Zoo Biology and Animal Management. West Sussex: John Wiley and sons .
RSPCA, 2014. Wild animals in circuses. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 03 02 2014].
Stoddart, H., 2000. Rings of Desire: Circus history and representation. Manchester: Manchester University press .
Syne, A., 2006. Meta-analytic review of the effects of enrichment on stereotypic behavior in zoo mammals. Zoo Biology , 25(4), pp. 317-337.
Wilson, D. A., 2009. Racial Prejudice and the Performing Animals Controversy in early Twentieth-Century Britain. Society and animals , Issue 17, pp. 149-165.

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