Circus animals set to be banned in Portsmouth

The cast of Zippos Circus Live at the Kings Theatre in 2013
The cast of Zippos Circus Live at the Kings Theatre in 2013

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CIRCUS acts visiting Portsmouth are poised to be banned from using animals.

Concerns were raised in October last year when cats were in a performance by Zippo’s Circus on Southsea Common.

Animals are vulnerable and cannot speak for themselves

Councillor Rob New

Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet initially looked to only allow domestic animals in circus performance, updating a policy from 1988.

But after discussions, only human performers look set to be allowed to take part on council land.

Councillor Ryan Brent brought up the documentary Blackfish, which investigated an orca whale which was mistreated in Seaworld, Florida and killed one of its trainers.

Five circuses performed in Portsmouth last year, with just one using animals in its show, and an inspection found the animal were being kept responsibly.

Cllr Rob New, cabinet member for the environment, said using animals in a circus is a ‘barbaric, draconian act.’

He said: ‘We should penalise those who use animals. It is not about penalising those who treat them well, it is about having morals.

‘In the SeaWorld documentary, they were taken from the wild and performing every day in a stressful environment.

‘I know that is extreme but it is no different whether they are horses or cats performing.

‘There are lots that aren’t seen by the people and are doing various shows every single day in cramped conditions.

‘Animals are vulnerable and cannot speak for themselves.

‘If we cannot speak up for the vulnerable, then we shouldn’t be here.’

The Portsmouth Summer Show was brought up by Cllr Young said the event was for education purposes.

Cllr Young said: ‘There is a thin line between entertainment and education.

‘Most people go to the circus as entertainment, whilst they go to the Portsmouth show as an opportunity to see animals and education for some families who do not get to the ruralities.’

He added using animals in circuses is degrading and children would not be used for cheap entertainment in the same way.

Cllr Steve Wemyss, who was part of the decision-making process in 1988, argued that horses have been working animals for thousands of years and that using them in the circus is no different to horse racing or equestrian events.

‘Where does one draw the line?’ he said.

‘It is about getting the balance right.’

Council boss Cllr Donna Jones, who also spoke about the horrors of the Blackfish documentary at the meeting, recommended the motion to be deferred and the report to be reworded that circuses will not be permitted to use animals of any kind.