photo by Aadarsh Mohandas (Flickr CC)

Despite 70% of the British public supporting a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, the UK government has failed to enact such a ban, opting for stiffer regulations instead.

The circus animal debate heated up last month when undercover footage was released of an elephant in a British circus being beaten with a pitchfork. One the one side are animal welfare groups and most UK voters. On the other stand circus owners who reap great financial benefit from training, parading and often abusing exotic animals, including keeping them in inadequate conditions.

From BBC News:

In 2009, the year for which the latest figures are available, there were an estimated 39 wild animals being used in circuses in the UK, including elephants, tigers, lions, camels, zebras and crocodiles.

Raymond Ing, elephant welfare expert and former advisor for Defra, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, had this to say regarding the inadequate conditions for  wild animals in UK circuses:

After the public has gone home the animals are chained up in beast wagons for hours. The environment is far too restrictive. The best zoos can meet the needs because they are static. Circuses can’t, because you have to up sticks all the time and you can’t give them the space.

Read more in the Independent.