Hot on the heels of his announced return as an X Factor judge, Louis Walsh took time from his busy schedule to send an urgent letter on behalf of PETA and Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) to Michael Creed – the new Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine – calling for a ban on wild-animal circuses.

In the letter, the entertainment manager notes that unlike the willing human acts he has worked with throughout his career, animals used in circuses don’t choose to perform – they do so out of threat of punishment. He writes, “They don’t stand on their heads, ride bicycles or perform other demeaning, often painful tricks willingly. They do so because if they don’t, they will be whipped, beaten with a steel-tipped bullhook or shocked with an electric prod”.

As more and more European countries introduce bans on using wild animals in circuses, Walsh further adds that not prohibiting this archaic form of entertainment is like “putting out a welcome mat for animal abusers”.

PETA and ARAN note that wild animals in circuses are often torn away from their mothers as babies, cannot engage in natural behaviours, are moved around in cramped and filthy conditions, are chained or caged for up to 23 hours a day, and commonly suffer from chronic health problems, abusive treatment, psychological disorders and premature death.

Austria, The Netherlands and Croatia are among the many countries that have introduced bans on wild-animal circuses, while several local authorities – including Galway, South Dublin, Kildare City, Waterford, Arklow and Monaghan – have banned these acts from public land.

Walsh joins Michael Sheen, Martin Freeman and Robert Carlyle in teaming up with PETA to banish wild-animal circus acts.

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