Wild Animals (Circuses)

Part of Backbench Business — [29th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:07 pm on 23rd June 2011.

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Photo of Sheryll Murray Sheryll Murray Conservative, South East Cornwall 5:07 pm, 23rd June 2011

I will try to be brief. I congratulate my hon. Friend Mark Pritchard on calling this debate, which gives me the opportunity to introduce the House to Donkey, who is a Barbary macaque who now lives in my constituency—if Members want to see what he looks like, I would be happy to show them afterwards.

Donkey’s story is not a happy one. Caught as a youngster and smuggled into Europe from Morocco, probably via Spain, Donkey wound up as a circus performer. Donkey suffered years of abuse in the circus, where he was beaten and forced to perform in front of large crowds. He was castrated, to avoid him becoming aggressive towards his captors, and denied the company of others of his kind, which causes immense mental and emotional suffering in all primates. All primates are highly social animals. Maternal deprivation is known not only to hinder psychological development, but to have physiological consequences, such as abnormal brain development. Donkey displays all those damaging signs: he has very poor social skills and is underdeveloped for a monkey of his age.

Donkey will never be able to return to the wild, owing to the damage he has sustained, but he now lives with friends of his own species. I hope that in time Donkey will be able to live a fairly fulfilled life in my constituency, at the Wild Futures monkey sanctuary near Looe. I would like to give a quick plug to the monkey sanctuary, which does fantastic work. If hon. Members are down our way during the recess, they should pop in and see the sanctuary, because Donkey and all his friends would love to see them. More importantly, the entrance fee and donations will feed him and other rescued primates at the centre.

Please remember Donkey, and the message that he cannot bring to the debate himself. It is time to ban wild animals in all circuses, so that the terrible life that Donkey has suffered need not be repeated. This is why I will support the motion.