Following the announcement by the Crown Prosecution Service that it has agreed to take on the prosecution of Bobby and Moira Roberts in relation to the mistreatment of their circus elephant Anne, Animal Defenders International (ADI) is now calling for her plight to become symbolic of a UK wild animal circus ban. And Sir Paul McCartney has pledged his support to ADI’s campaign.

“I hate to see wild animals in circuses,” said the Beatles legend. “It is heartbreaking to see these poor animals confined in small cages and carted around the country with little respect for their welfare and well-being. I have made my feelings known previously on this subject and I believe an outright ban is long overdue.”

Jan Creamer, ADI’s Chief Executive said: "We are very grateful to Sir Paul for supporting our campaign and helping to highlight the plight of wild animals currently languishing in UK circuses during this crucial time.

“Government has recently announced that a ban is not an immediate possibility and has decided to proceed with a licensing system instead. This decision flies in the face of what MPs and the British public demand and it is high time that this Government started listening to the will of the country.

“Let’s make Anne the elephant symbolic of a UK ban and ban the use of wild animals in circuses for good.”

In June this year, a backbench debate saw over 50 MPs from all of the major parties vote unanimously for a motion tabled by Mark Pritchard MP, calling on the Government to ban the use of wild animals in circuses by July 2012.

Following the Parliamentary recess, MPs have continued to put pressure on the Government, with cross-party MPs tabling Parliamentary Questions on the issue of wild animals in circuses and ADI is continuing to work with them.

Zac Goldsmith, Tory MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston said: “A motion calling for a ban passed unopposed through Parliament, and is backed by a big majority of people. I sincerely hope the Government will take steps now to implement that ban for the sake of the animals involved.”

Adrian Sanders, the Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay said: “The will of parliament as expressed on the 23 June 2011 is not being actioned by the Government through its proposed licensing system. It falls well short of the welfare standards parliament demanded.”

Kerry McCarthy, the Labour MP for Bristol East said: “A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses is long overdue. The old fashioned practice of removing wild animals from their natural environments for the purpose of entertaining an audience is inhumane and cruel. Behind the curtains the brutality that these wild animals receive is utterly deplorable and should have no place in our society. I am urging the Government to act now, the overwhelming support this campaign has received demonstrates that the public agrees that this outdated and cruel form of entertainment should be banned without delay.”

Earlier this year, ADI released the results of its independent online poll carried out by YouGov, which asked impartial participants aged over 18 to what extent they would support or oppose a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. A massive 72% of the public backed a ban with only 8% against – almost 3 out 4 members of the public therefore wanted a ban.

In 2010, a public consultation by Defra (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) resulted in a huge 94.5% public support for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.

National measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have already been adopted in Bolivia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Luxembourg, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Singapore, Costa Rica, India and Israel and similar laws are being discussed in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Greece.

Jan concluded: “All of these countries have looked at the evidence and then taken the right decision for animal welfare and protection. It is time that the UK Government now did the same.”

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