Defying Prime Minister David Cameron and his government, members of the British parliament voted unanimously yesterday to prohibit wild animals from being used in circuses.
One of the three members of parliament, Mark Pritchard, who is part of the Conservative majority and who brought the bipartisan motion for a ban, revealed that he had first been offered a government job, and had then been threatened that Prime Minister David Cameron would look “very dimly” on his recalcitrance unless he amended or withdrew the motion.
Other MPs listened in astonishment as Pritchard said: “I may just be a little council house lad from a very poor background but that background gave me a backbone. It gives me a thick skin and I’m not going to be cowed by the whips of the Prime Minister on an issue I feel passionately about and have conviction about.”
The campaign to save animals from circuses came to a head in April when Annie, a 57-year-old elephant, was rescued from the Bobby Robert Super Circus and taken to a sanctuary after an undercover video showed her being violently abused.
A poll showed that 71 percent of the British public favored a complete ban on wild animals in circuses. But the government demurred in the face of strong lobbying from British and European special interests.
Newspapers took up the cause of the animals. One of them, The Independent, launched a petition that was signed by 38,000 people.
Finally, in a decision hailed by animal protection groups and their supporters as a “historic victory for animal welfare and protection,” MPs of all parties unanimously backed a ban and the Government signaled that it would introduce one, ending forever the days of lions, tigers, elephants and other wild animals in the big top.