Animal Defenders International (ADI), who is spearheading the campaign to end the use of wild animals in circuses in Britain, has teamed up with the multi-talented Ricky Gervais and legendary actors Dame Judi Dench and Brian Blessed to get behind a new bill to ban wild animal acts in Britain which is being introduced today.

Outspoken comedian and long-time ADI supporter Ricky Gervais: “The British government needs to stop stalling and bring the ban into law. Animals deserve our respect and compassion and, for those currently subjected to a life in the circus, they need action to be taken. They have suffered long enough. I support Animal Defenders International’s campaign to stop circus suffering.”

Dame Judi Dench has given her wholehearted support for a circus ban: “It is unbelievable that there is still no ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. 27 countries around the world have taken action on this issue, so why haven’t we? I give my full backing to Animal Defenders International to stop the suffering of circus animals.”

Dame Judi Dench and Ricky Gervais join a long list of celebrity supporters who want to see a ban on wild animal acts in Britain, including Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Roger Moore, Brian May, Moby, Imelda Staunton, Eddie Izzard, Twiggy, Annette Crosbie and Brian Blessed.

Brian Blessed will be joining ADI outside Parliament today to give his support to former Labour Defra Minister Jim Fitzpatrick MP who is introducing the new bill to ban wild animals in circuses. The veteran actor said “I fully support ADI and Jim Fitzpatrick MP in their efforts to make wild animal circuses a thing of the past. It’s about time the government stopped making promises and started taking action for our animals. Let’s do the right thing and ban this practice now.”

ADI President Jan Creamer, who is presently overseeing a rescue mission of wild circus animals in Peru following a ban there, welcomed the celebrities support: “We are thrilled that Ricky Gervais, Dame Judi Dench and Brian Blessed have spoken out at this crucial time for the lions, tigers and other wild animals suffering in British circuses. We hope their actions will inspire everyone to contact their MP without delay to support this important new bill so that we can finally secure the ban we have all been waiting for.”

ADI’s shocking revelations of the brutal violence and constant chaining of Anne the elephant at the Bobby Roberts Super Circus in 2011 sparked a public outcry across the nation, and led to a unanimous vote from MPs for a ban following a Commons debate the same year. Anne’s owner was subsequently found guilty of offences under the Animal Welfare Act. Public support for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses has been consistently high for 15 years, with a Defra public consultation showing a resounding 94% of respondents supporting a ban on such acts.

The current Government first announced that it would take action on this issue in March 2012 but, as ADI had feared, a delay in bringing in a ban has seen the number of wild animal acts increase and the return of big cats to Britain. This year, ADI exposed how animals touring with Peter Jolly’s Circus, one of two circuses still using wild animals, are not coping with their unnatural lives. A lion and tiger were filmed pacing up and down their ‘beastwagon’, exhibiting repetitive, abnormal behaviour not seen in the wild. The big cat act is presented by Thomas Chipperfield, a relative of the notorious Mary Chipperfield, who was prosecuted for animal cruelty following an ADI exposé in the late 1990s.

The Government says that it remains committed to the wild animal circus ban. The Prime Minister promised an ADI deputation in April that “We’re going to do it” and in response to the joint letter from 75 ADI celebrity supporters and MPs, David Cameron reiterated his commitment to ban what he calls an “outdated practice” in a personal letter to ADI. But ADI fears time is running out.

ADI and other animal organisations have urged the Prime Minister to support the new bill and ensure it is given time to pass. ADI is also urging members of the public to ask their MP to support the bill.

ADI leads the campaign to stop the suffering of circus animals in Britain and around the world. 27 countries worldwide have placed national restrictions on the use of animals in circuses, and over 200 local authorities in Britain have bans on the use of animals in circuses in place. An ADI team is currently in Peru enforcing measures to end the use of wild animals in circuses there and has already removed 12 lions from circuses.

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