AMAZINGLY, only a little over a year ago, having wild animals like lions, tigers, elephants and sea lions became illegal in Britain.
Currently, a similar law is being introduced to also make it illegal to keep these same animals as pets in private homes.
At present, more than 50 elephants are kept in captivity in Britain. As they die, it will be illegal to have more of them unless they have been captive-bred in Britain.
It is estimated that today in Britain a dozen lions, 14 tigers and 50 leopards are held by licensed private owners.
In total, there are a total of 150 big cats of all species permitted to be kept privately as pets in Britain. Examples include four tigers in Lincolnshire, three cheetahs in Cumbria, and six cloudy leopards in Cornwall.
This contrasts with the United States where only a few states have laws making it illegal to keep any type of wild animal.
There are approximately 5,000 captive tigers in the United States, and this is far more than the 3,900 tigers remaining in the wild in the world.
A baby tiger is high on the birthday gift list of many spoiled but truly wealthy children.
● ANNE is an arthritic circus elephant over 60 years old. Earlier this year, she starred in the BBC1 Animal Park morning TV show filmed at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park.
Ten years ago she was saved from a life of abuse while touring Britain with Bobby Roberts Super Circus.
Circus owner Bobby Roberts has been convicted of three counts of causing unnecessary suffering to Asian elephant Anne.
He was also found guilty of failing to prevent an employee, Nicolai Nitu – who had since fled to his native Romania – from repeatedly beating the animal, often with a pitchfork.
Roberts also didn’t make sure the elephant’s needs were met by not giving him medication for his arthritis.
Northampton Crown Court has seen footage secretly filmed by animal welfare group Animal Defenders International of the elephant being repeatedly kicked and pitched with a pitchfork by Nitu in the circus’s winter quarters throughout the year last.
The footage also showed Anne constantly chained by a front foot and a back leg in a barn.
Roberts gave instructions for Anne to be shackled and took no action to prevent the beatings she received. Nor did he provide training or supervision to the staff member responsible for her. His elephant keeper Nicolai Nitu is now back in Romania.
Now, the charity that saved Anne from the circus wants her moved from Longleat to a less public elephant sanctuary and one where she could be with other elephants.
Online petitions have collected more than 150,000 signatures supporting such a move.
Longleat, who built a special house for Anne and has pledged not to display it or use it for any marketing, says they don’t think Anne should be moved as the trip is likely to ‘be very stressful for her due to her age, her physique and mental state. He also believes that the introduction to other elephants could lead to bullying.
The argument continues with Anne in the middle. Unfortunately, this is far from being an important argument to find a suitable place for it.
● Most zoos or animal parks and other similar places will forbid the keeping of wild animals in captivity for conservation reasons.
I have already cited the position of polar bears. There are over 120 institutions that try to breed a polar bear cub in captivity.
They all know that displaying such an adorable and cuddly animal is a license to print money.
In fact, no polar bear bred in captivity has ever been released into the wild. In fact, most die very young.
● It’s not just land animals. The activist group Freedom for Animals has identified 10 zoos and safari parks in the UK that keep sea lions in captivity and advertise circus performances with these animals.
Britain has not had whales or dolphins in captivity for over 25 years. But Britain has a long history of keeping them captive.
There are records of whales and dolphins in British aquariums dating back almost 150 years.
We do, however, have many aquariums that feature shows featuring endangered fish, such as sharks, stingrays, and stingrays.
In 1874, porpoises could be seen at the Brighton Aquarium. In 1877, a beluga was shipped from Canada “on a bed of seaweed”. It has been exhibited at the Royal Aquarium in Westminster. The poor animal only survived a few days.
All over the world, many whales, dolphins and other marine mammals are still kept in captivity and displayed in shows.
Seven countries currently hold a total of 42 orcas or killer whales in captivity. Half are in the United States, the rest in Japan (8), Spain (5), France (4), Canada (2) and one in the Netherlands and one in Argentina.
Some 161 belugas are kept and presented in 14 countries. The top five are: Canada (42), the United States (31), Russia (28), China (24) and Japan (20).
Sadly, there are well over 2,000 captive dolphins in various aquariums, zoos, amusement parks and theme parks, and even fancy and expensive hotels in nearly 60 countries.
Here in Britain our main period for dolphin shows began in the 1960s with Flamingoland in Yorkshire.
In 1963, it was the first modern day park to exhibit dolphins. It was also the last to permanently close its doors to these animals in 1993.
Since then, there have been no whale or dolphin shows in Britain, although a few have been threatened.
Many people think it is illegal to keep whales or dolphins in tanks in Britain, but there is actually no legal ban in place.
Meanwhile, many British holidaymakers will catch whale and dolphin shows at many popular overseas holiday destinations, from Florida to Benidorm.
Whether in circuses, zoos, safari parks or aquariums, thousands of animals – land, sea and air – are kept in uncomfortable overcrowded prisons just for you and me and our children and grandchildren. get to watch them, stroke them occasionally and laugh at them and their weird antics.
● As the poet William Blake – who wrote the great alternative socialist national anthem, Jerusalem – so often says it better than I do.
He wrote: “A Robin Redbreast in a Cage / Puts all Heaven in a Rage. “
It was around the time when the poet wandered the streets of London with a red cap. For him, his hat was a symbol of his radical politics. He was a dissident, supporter of the French Revolution, and firmly opposed to the monarchy.
Looks like someone who should write for the Morning Star every Friday.