Kids’ charity demands withdrawal of name from big cat circus show

0
523

A CHILDREN’S charity has demanded its name be withdrawn from a show involving the UK’s last circus big cats.

The only remaining lion tamer in Britain, Thomas Chipperfield, keeps two lions and three tigers in cages on a croft in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.

The creatures are to be the stars of a show next month which will be held on the site of a former air base.

Posters have been put up in nearby villages advertising ‘An evening with lions and tigers’ with tickets costing £6 for adults and £4 for children.

The posters state the event is “supporting” major charity Cash For Kids, which raised £15.7m across the UK last year.

But charity chiefs said they knew nothing about it and have told the lion tamer to remove their name.

Video taken at the croft by Animal Defenders International shows, they say, evidence of pacing and what appear to be cramped conditions. The local council have, however, given the facilities their approval.
Video taken at the croft by Animal Defenders International shows, they say, evidence of pacing and what appear to be cramped conditions. The local council have, however, given the facilities their approval.

 

A spokeswoman for the charity said: “Cash for Kids is not involved with any circus acts. We’re not doing any fundraisers with any circus acts.”

Speaking about the name being on the posters she said: “We’ve asked him to remove it.”

Animal rights campaigners said they are “extremely pleased” the charity have distanced themselves from the show and are calling for the public to do the same.

“I thought they were simply using the good name of the charity to attract people in,” said John Robins of Animal Concern.

“Kids know more than anyone else that it is wrong to have these animals in shows.

“These lions and tigers should be going to a sanctuary instead of being forced to perform demeaning tricks at an old air base.

“After a winter caged up in tiny cages on a croft they are now going to be caged up in tiny cages on a beast wagon.”

The name of Cash For Kids clearly appears on this poster. The charity has demanded it be withdrawn.
The name of Cash For Kids clearly appears on this poster. The charity has demanded it be withdrawn.

 

He added: “This is 2015 yet we allow animals to suffer in much the same way their predecessors suffered when Victoria was Queen.”

During the performance the lions and tigers, which each weigh around 400lbs, will perform “training displays” and people will be able to watch them during “feeding time” at Crimond Airfield,

Activists claim the show is a “distasteful, outdated performance” and have urged the local council to investigate its legality.

In the 1950s, Thomas Chipperfield’s family owned the biggest circus in Europe with a herd of 16 elephants and more than 200 other animals from polar bears to chimps and giraffes.

Now he is now the last lion tamer in the UK and coming under increasing pressure from animal rights groups.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) secretly filmed the big cats in cages on the Aberdeenshire croft over the winter.

The video shows the cats in what appear to be cramped conditions and pacing.

They insist the animals native to Asia and Africa suffer in cold weather and “unnatural environment” of the east coast of Scotland.

Commenting on the show an ADI spokeswoman said: “The lions and tigers made to perform for this act are denied a natural life and live a pitiful existence in cages on the back of a truck.

“ADI has exposed the suffering these animals endure, which has been condemned by welfare experts.

“Please avoid this distasteful, outdated performance and urge your friends and family to do so too.”

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said a vet and two officers had visited Mr Chipperfield’s premises and were satisfied with the wellbeing and security of the animals.

Cash For Kids issued a second statement.
A spokeswoman for the charity said: “We were recently made aware of some serious allegations concerning an event organised to raise money for our charity.
“We had seen nothing to suggest that these allegations were true but we spoke to the Scottish SPCA to investigate further.
“They confirmed that there’s no evidence to support these claims so, whilst we won’t be involved with this event, we are hoping to speak to the organisers about how best we can support any events that they have planned for the future.”
Thomas Chipperfield said: “It’s one of those regrettable circumstances where animal rights groups have used intimidation tactics to get their way and get the charity to decline our offer to support them.
“We have found an alternative charity – we are going to be keeping them anonymous so they don’t get the treatment Cash For Kids did.”
He continued: “We don’t ever fail inspections – if that were the case we’d have the animals taken off as and we haven’t.”
He said as the animal rights groups have not offered any expert of veterinary reports to back up their claims: “There stance is not scientific, it’s purely ideological.”