Wednesday 11 May 2011

Opinion: Why I Hate David Cameron #1

With someone like David Cameron, it's hard to work out exactly why I dislike him so strongly. All the reasons have, over the months, melted together to form a giant ball of anger. It is hard to believe that someone I hate so much, is in control of major decisions governing the country I live in. 

One thing that makes me especially sick about Cameron, is that he puts so much effort into pretending. He pretends to be a 'common man', he pretends to be doing the best by the country, and he pretends he listens to the people. But I digress.
The reason why I hate David Cameron today (and please be aware that this can change daily) is because I, along with 94.5% of the public, believe that the use of wild animals in circuses should be banned. This is an issue I focus on every day in my job, and it's an issue I feel very strongly about on a personal level as well. 
It is hard to believe that in 2011, we still have circuses touring the UK featuring wild animals. In England, there are currently four circuses using wild animals (five more with domestic animals, and about twenty animal free circuses). These animals include tigers, camels, zebras and snakes and, until recently, an elephant.
These animals are in circuses purely for entertainment. There is no educational reason for seeing animals perform tricks in circuses. In fact, for children who learn about the loss of habitat, and threatened extinction of animals such as tigers, I imagine it is confusing that they can then go down to their local recreational ground and see tigers forced to jump through hoops to please audiences. This sends mixed messages, and shows children a worrying example of our relationship with animals. 
There is no conservational value in seeing wild animals perform tricks. Take again, the example of the tigers at the Great British Circus. These animals are born in captivity, they are tenth generation captive bred tigers. They are unable to explore their natural instincts such as exploring and hunting. These animals cannot be released into the wild. These are tigers who have been bred for a lifetime in captivity, and nothing more. 
A generation ago, animal circuses were considered (by most, but not all people) to be fun family friendly days out. In fact, my parents can remember taking me to the circus and seeing elephants perform tricks. At that time, society was starting to become more conscious of animal welfare issues, and my mum remembers feeling slightly guilty about this form of entertainment. 
Thankfully, society has progressed since then, and now the majority of people are against the use of wild animals in circuses. A Defra consultation last year found that 94.5% of the 13,000 respondents supported a ban. 
The Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party all have policies to introduce a wild animal circus ban. The Conservatives have no such thing.
After years of lobbying, thousands of letters, postcards and emails, politicians are finally getting behind a ban. 189 MPs have signed an EDM in the House of Commons calling for a ban. 
Following the expose of animal abuse at a leading UK circus, Defra announced that they were 'minded to introduce a ban'. 
The Independent reported last week that No10 have stepped in and vetoed a ban. According to the article, Downing Street is planning to introduce a system of self regulation. A system, that will by it's very nature, fail the animals. Under the care of a leading circus, Anne the elephant was beaten 48 times in a period of 3 and a half weeks. I for one, am not convinced that self regulation would prevent similar incidents occurring. 
More importantly, a scientific study by the University of Bristol, found that the welfare needs of wild animals simply cannot be met by travelling circuses. The constant transportation, the inadequate and temporary housing, and the stress of training and performance all mean that the animals' welfare suffer. This opinion is also supported by the British Veterinary Association (made up of 10,000 vets) and leading animal welfare organisation the RSPCA. 
If life in the circus compromises the welfare of the animals, then it should technically already be illegal under the animal welfare act. However, circuses continue to transport animals week after week, for eight months a year, without intervention from the police or RSPCA. Circuses seem to have slipped under the net of animal welfare, and for a short time it seemed like things might be about to change for the better.
But David Cameron, and those at No10, have decided that they will not be the government to ban wild animal circuses. An official announcement is due soon, but in the meantime, please join the Independent's campaign by signing the petition calling on the government to introduce a ban.
So, to conclude. Today I hate David Cameron because he is not only condemning the animals currently in circuses, but he is also condemning the future generations of animals who will be introduced to circuses, and be forced to perform unnatural tricks to audiences of idiots. 
The Independent article can be found here.

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