Examination of Witnesses

Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 21st May 2019.

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Peter Jolly Snr and Carol MacManus gave evidence.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 2:01 pm, 21st May 2019

Good afternoon everyone and, in particular, welcome to our two witnesses. I say immediately to our witnesses that parliamentarians are as not as ghastly as they are painted. We are used to being robust with each other but we do understand that, for our witnesses, this is often the first time you have done such a thing, so deep breaths, relax and enjoy it. Although these evidence sessions are relatively new in terms of parliamentary procedure, the idea is, before we scrutinise the Bill, we are trying to get evidence so that we produce the best legislation possible. Can you project your voices, please, and kindly introduce yourselves?

Peter Jolly:

I am Peter Jolly of Peter Jolly’s Circus.

Carol MacManus:

Carol MacManus of Circus Mondao.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

Colleagues, we have until 2.45 pm for this session.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water)

Q 84Thank you for joining us today. This morning we heard evidence from animal welfare groups talking about how important it is that wild animals are banned in circuses. As circus operators, can you give us your perspective on the Bill and also on the role of wild animals for entertainment?

Peter Jolly:

From my perspective, we have been licensed for seven years. We have had more than 40 inspections in those seven years, all of which have been satisfactory, if not more than satisfactory. Like any other inspection, there are tiny little things that have to be rectified and they have been rectified immediately. There is no reason that the animals that are in circus now cannot remain in circus, because the inspectors have inspected them that many times. We work with them all the time. That is our life.

Carol MacManus:

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs did a review on the report, and the report, I think, is outstanding: the animal welfare of the circus was of a very high standard over the five to six years that we have done the licensing. We are still licensed at the moment to keep our wild animals in circuses. I do not believe they are wild animals; they are exotic animals. None of the animals we own is wild. They are exotic animals, all born and bred in this country. Reindeer are classified as wild animals only in a circus. They are not wild anywhere else in the UK.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water)

Q From your point of view and the way you run your businesses, can you explain what efforts you make around animal welfare? We heard this morning about issues of cruelty towards animals and the sense that this ban is overwhelmingly supported by the British public, which I imagine includes those people who attend and watch circuses. I will be grateful for your perspectives on that.

Peter Jolly:

From the animal welfare side of it, our animals do the very minimum performing in a day. For the majority of the day they are outside grazing. Myself and Carol—

Carol MacManus:

Spoil our animals.

Peter Jolly:

They are grazing animals—hoofed animals—so for the majority of the day, apart from maybe one or two hours, they are outside grazing. Their veterinary care is top, because our licence requires us to keep records on a daily basis. Four times a day, for every single animal, we have to record the weather, the environment, what food they have had and what we have done with them, such as if we walk them from the paddock to the big top. There are no welfare problems at all.

Carol MacManus:

We did a survey while we were doing the tours of the circus in 2010—I know that is a while back now—that 10,000 people filled in, and 84% was positive. Some of them did not even realise what the survey was and just ticked all the boxes because they weren’t really reading it. You say that an overwhelming majority want to ban animals in circuses, but the majority of those people are against us having animals in any form of entertainment. Slowly but surely you will find that they try to ban everything.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

What animals do you keep?Q

Peter Jolly:

Do you mean animals or what are classified as wild animals?

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

The animals that would be covered by the Bill, were it to become an Act.

Peter Jolly:

Camels, zebra, reindeer, an Indian cow, a fox, two raccoons and a macaw.

Carol MacManus:

And I have one zebra, two camels and two reindeer that I believe are questionable anyway.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

BecauseQ they are not reindeer?

Carol MacManus:

Because they are not really wild in this country—only if they are owned by a circus.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

Q There is always this fine divide, and because one can does not necessarily mean that one should. Do you think, in this day and age, with the popular access to wildlife television programmes and conservation and so on, that animals should be used for entertainment in that way? What good is that doing, apart from entertaining?

Peter Jolly:

It is not just the entertainment in the ring. We have children coming to the circus who have never seen, smelled or touched a camel. I have a fox that is now 15 years old that I hand-reared from three or four days old. The only foxes that children see are on the side of the road, dead. They do not see these animals. Safari parks and zoos are very good in their own way, but not everybody can afford to go to a zoo or safari park, because they are very expensive.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

Mr Jolly, I quite specifically did not mention zoos or safari parks, because I think you can construct a perfectly—the question I asked was whether, with access to internet and television—

Peter Jolly:

It is not the same. You cannot smell an animal on the internet or on the television.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

Having smelled camels, I think I would prefer not to have to smell them.

Carol MacManus:

Are you saying we smell?

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

Not you, Ms McManus, but camels are not known for their—you do not find them on the Estée Lauder counter, do you?

Carol MacManus:

No.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

Q So the question is whether you should use them in that way.

Carol MacManus:

Why not?

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

Q Could you give me your justification for that?

Peter Jolly:

My service is a family service. It is family orientated, so we deal with a lot of children. They do not get to see these things. Why should we deprive those children of contact with live animals? They are not wild animals; they are live animals. As Carol said, our animals, in our eyes, are exotic, not wild animals.

Photo of Sandy Martin Sandy Martin Shadow Minister (Waste and Recycling)

I believe you are basing some of your evidence on the idea that the animals that you have are domesticated; you mention, Ms MacManus, that camels are domesticated in most areas of the world. However, at least one person has written to us saying that elephants have been domesticated for thousands of years. They could be counted as domesticated animalsQ .

Carol MacManus:

But we do not have any elephants.

Photo of Sandy Martin Sandy Martin Shadow Minister (Waste and Recycling)

Q I am not suggesting that you do; I am asking whether you believe that elephants should be counted as domesticated animals. If so, why should we not allow elephants in a circus? We had a submission from the Fédération Mondiale du Cirque, suggesting that all circuses should have animals, including lions, and a submission from a circus in Germany that also has lions, making the case that having lions in circuses is perfectly acceptable. Were it possible for you to have elephants and lions, would you? Also, do you agree that if we do not ban wild animals in circuses there is every possibility that somebody else will come in with a circus that has elephants or lions, or both?

Peter Jolly:

My point of view is that I do not have elephants or lions at the moment, and I do not intend to, so that would not apply to me. Obviously, I cannot speak for another circus coming in from abroad. That is up to the Government, in terms of imports and exports, and whether DEFRA would allow them in. I cannot see why, if a circus came over from another country, it should not operate.

Carol MacManus:

There are not many—no, I should not say that really. The regulations with DEFRA should have carried on. I do not believe that they should have stopped. That would have stopped any issues with anybody who did not keep their animals correctly. What we had to do for the DEFRA regulations was more stringent than what zoos, safari parks or any other industry has to do. If someone does it correctly, why should there not be other kinds of animals in circuses? However, at the moment we are arguing for our animals. We do not have any elephants or cats.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

On the definition, let us start with birds. We are told that budgerigars and canaries are not wild animals; they are domesticated in Great Britain. However, apparently macaws are considered wild. You have described some other issues. How clear do you think the definition is of what is or is not domesticatedQ ?

Peter Jolly:

There are a few animals. I have a miniature cow that is on the circus licence. It should not be on the circus licence; it is a cow. Hundreds of people keep macaws as pets. Mine has bigger facilities than any pet macaw. He is allowed to free fly, and he has a large enclosure when he is not free flying. I got him from a home that kept him in a 2 foot by 3 foot cage. These animals, in some hands, are allowed and are classified as non-wild, but because the word “circus” is added to the licence they are classified as a wild animal.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Q Carol, you mentioned exotic animals. An exotic pet is a wild animal that is being kept as a pet, is it not? So is an exotic animal not a wild animal?

Carol MacManus:

No, it is an exotic animal.

Peter Jolly:

My macaw was born in captivity. It was not wild-caught.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Q May I turn to Carol for a minute? You keep talking about exotic animals.

Carol MacManus:

They are exotic.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Q An exotic animal is just a wild animal. An exotic pet is a wild animal that is kept as a pet.

Carol MacManus:

Possibly, but I have a cockerel. He is the only animal on our circus that is likely to attack you. Is he a wild cockerel or a domesticated cockerel? He is aggressive.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Q I am just trying to work out the definition that you are trying to give us. What do you mean by an exotic animal?

Peter Jolly:

It is usually one that is domesticated in other countries, but may not be domesticated here, such as a camel. We classify that as exotic. My cow is an exotic cow, because it comes from India.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Q We were told earlier that some of the wild animals are disrupted and upset by a lot of travel. They are essentially wild, and although you may persuade them to perform by a form of training, moving them from place to place disrupts and upsets them. It is just wrong, we are told.

Peter Jolly:

It is the opposite.

Carol MacManus:

I think it will be more distressing and upsetting when there is a ban and I have to either leave or rehome my baby camel and his father. We have already had to leave them behind once before, because we could not take them to a site, and the baby camel spent the whole week crying.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Q Yes, but what about my point that an itinerant lifestyle for wild animals, which are the ones covered by the Bill, is wrong because it upsets them and disrupts them?

Peter Jolly:

It does not upset them.

Carol MacManus:

Who says it upsets them?

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

It is unnatural to their way of life.

Carol MacManus:

No, it is not.

Peter Jolly:

My camels load themselves when it is time to go to the next place. We do not have to lead them like a horse or anything; they get into the trailer themselves.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Q So what is the difference between your camel and a horse?

Peter Jolly:

We treat it like one. We lead it the same and treat it the same.

Carol MacManus:

None of our animals shows any sign of stress at all when they are travelling. In fact, some stress tests have been done on lions, which are wild animals. I am sure that Mr Lacey will tell you about that later, because I do not know the ins and outs of it, but proper stress tests have been performed.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Q Are there any animals that you would say should not perform?

Carol MacManus:

No.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Labour, Lewisham West and Penge

SomeQ of the answers to Mr Hoare’s questions were about children being able to see the animals because they are in a circus. Is that different from going to see an animal in a safari park, for example, where the animal is in a habitat in which it is not required to perform? In a way, safari parks try to recreate the natural habitats that animals live in, whereas in a circus the animal is expected to perform for a crowd, which is completely at odds with what it would do in the wild. I want to challenge some of the comments that you made. What would you say in response to that?

Peter Jolly:

I would rather that an animal perform in a circus than that it be in a safari park, where there are hundreds of cars going by with fumes, noise and children banging on the windows. There is no comparison. Our animals are calm and are handled gently; they are not in a safari park situation, where youngsters and the cars driving past are upsetting them. We do not do that.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Labour, Lewisham West and Penge

Q What about when they are packed up and have to travel from place to place?

Peter Jolly:

We do not pack them up.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Labour, Lewisham West and Penge

Q But they move around, do they not?

Peter Jolly:

Our animals are transported; we do not pack them up. We pack the tent up.

Carol MacManus:

Zoo animals are moved around, too, but they are generally not used to it. I am not an expert on zoo animals, but I believe that most of them are usually sedated to be moved around, or at least to be put in the transporters. We do not do any of that. All our animals are quite happy to move along the road. They travel next to the same companion that they have travelled with all the time. They are used to the other animals, used to the environment and used to us. There is nothing strange or stressful.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Labour, Lewisham West and Penge

Q How often do they have to be transported?

Carol MacManus:

We move once a week, on a Sunday.

Peter Jolly:

We move once a week.

Carol MacManus:

Then they have two days off, because generally we do not work on Monday and Tuesday, and then they work—if you can call it work—from Wednesday to Sunday. They appear for about two minutes in the circus ring. They are not over-stressed.

Peter Jolly:

Ours are the same.

Carol MacManus:

In 2013, we had 85,000 attendants at our circus. We know that some people are saying, “Oh, we’re not doing very well this year,” but with animals we seem to be doing fine. People come to see our animals.

Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland

Mr JollyQ , you referred to your two racoons and your fox, zebra and camels. If there was a ban, what would happen to those animals?

Peter Jolly:

Nothing. I would change my business to something else, but the animals would stop with me.

Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland

Q What proportion are they of the entertainment you provide with the circus? What other acts does it include? I have not been to your circus myself.

Peter Jolly:

Clowns, acrobats, wire walking, juggling, a western act, an eastern act.

Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland

Surely you would not want to give all that up if wild animals were not permitted in circuses.

Peter Jolly:

I would. It is my 70th year this year, so I am not going to change from doing the animals now. I have done them all my life, so I am not going to change now.

Carol MacManus:

I do not really know. I have not really got a plan. I have inquired, and several places would take them. I do not really want to give them away but I cannot see them happy at home—they would not be happy at home on their own. The other animals would carry on travelling with the circus. So, I do not really know. I have not got that far yet.

Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland

Q Did you say that the wild animals would continue to travel with the circus?

Carol MacManus:

No, I did not say that.

Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland

I am sorry; I misheard you.

Carol MacManus:

I said that they would not be happy being left at home.

Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Labour/Co-operative, Redcar

Q Thank you very much for coming to give evidence. Could you talk us through a bit more about how you look after animals, and what their sleeping conditions and training regime are like? Could you talk us through an average day for the animals?

Peter Jolly:

An average day starts at about 8 o’clock. My grazing animals are outside. They have inside and outside access, so it is up to them whether they go out or come in. They are cleaned, mucked out, fed any concentrated food that is required, and watered. Young animals in training go into the circus tent and are walked through, to start with. With all the animals, we walk them into the tent so that they can see the atmosphere, and we feed them as we are doing it. That might be for 15 minutes, and they then go back out into their paddocks for the rest of the day.

At 4 o’clock, we bring them in to what we call the stable tent, where they are kept before the performance, and they are groomed and checked over. If they wear any sort of headdress or harness, that is where those are fitted. They do their performance, which lasts anything up to three to four minutes. They stay in that tent until the end of the whole performance and then go back out to the grazing. That is a typical day for them.

Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Labour/Co-operative, Redcar

Q That is really helpful, thank you. What sort of performance is it? What do they typically do?

Peter Jolly:

The camels and the zebras basically walk around the ring. They stand on what we call pedestal stands and the zebra walks in and out of them. I have a donkey and a lamb in the same act, and a miniature cow, and it lasts anything up to three minutes.

Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Labour/Co-operative, Redcar

Q How long would it take to train an animal to do that?

Peter Jolly:

The training starts when they are young and it is not training them in tricks. The training is in teaching them to lead, and to come to you when you want them. With all our animals, we can go to the edge of our enclosure and call them and they will come up to us, and that is done only by reward and training.

Carol MacManus:

It is trust.

Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Labour/Co-operative, Redcar

Q That is a question I was going to ask. During those training stages, what happens if an animal does not comply or does not respond?

Peter Jolly:

You take it out. It is very similar to with children. If children start doing work wrong, the more you push them the worse it gets. So all you do is say, “Right, that’s it. Training session over. Start tomorrow again”.

Carol MacManus:

It is all little and often.

Peter Jolly:

It is all done by reward. Some of it is clicker training, and some of it is by reward.

Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Labour/Co-operative, Redcar

Q You said that you have substantial regulation to monitor all that. Have you had any issues where you have had to bring vets in, or any crises in the last year? What sort of situations have you had?

Peter Jolly:

No crises. We have had two inspections this year up to now. We have had no health problems. In our regime you have to worm, and the lead vet has to check them four times a year. You have to record any tiny problem like worming and things like that. It all has to be checked. We also take weights four times a year.

Photo of Anna Turley Anna Turley Labour/Co-operative, Redcar

Q So you have not had to call a vet for any of your wild animals?

Carol MacManus:

Not since the start of this year, no, if you are counting this year.

Peter Jolly:

Only the inspection vets.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

We have under 20 minutes left. Four colleagues have indicated that they want to speak before the Minister does. If anyone else wants to say something, could they catch my eye?

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth

May I just say, Mr Jolly and MsQ MacManus, that you are coming across as people who care very much for your animals?

Carol MacManus:

We do.

Peter Jolly:

We’re a family.

Peter Jolly:

My grandchildren are in the circus now. It is a family business that uses animals. We are similar to farms.

Carol MacManus:

I do not know how many of you have a pet, but if you had a pet dog and somebody told you, “We’re going to ban pet ownership”, how would you feel?

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth

Q I can understand that this is very difficult and emotional for you. We can appreciate that. It is a whole way of life for you. What has struck me from what you have said is that in addition to the wild animals—you call them exotic animals—you have other animals. You might be thinking, “If this does come through, we’ll look to diversify. We may have other animals,” because clearly you love animals and you think children should have these opportunities. Could you talk to us about how you might diversify—maybe you could have some snakes?

Carol MacManus:

They are wild animals, so we cannot have them either.

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth

Q Are there any other sorts of animals that you—

Peter Jolly:

It is only ponies—I have ponies—and donkeys, goats, that sort of thing. They are the only things. Llamas are not classified as wild.

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth

Q So you would carry on doing what you were doing but you would have other animals that were not considered to be exotic or wild animals?

Peter Jolly:

Or we could go off and do country shows and things like that with the animals that we have.

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth

Q Talk me through that. You feel that you would be able to keep the animals you have, which are wild animals—although you call them exotic animals—but do something else with them.

Peter Jolly:

We could do film work and county shows. We could still have a circus, but outside.

Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth

Q Do you feel the definitions in the Bill would enable you to do that?

Peter Jolly:

I think the word “circus” needs to be clarified. Saying that it has to be in a big top is not correct. A circus can be anywhere.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Clearly, you are very fond of your animals and have had them for a very long time. Mr Jolly, you said that you would not continue, but you are Peter Jolly senior, so obviously your children and grandchildren are involvedQ .

Peter Jolly:

There is a junior.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Would they continue with the circus or would they close it down?

Peter Jolly:

They might continue with the domestic animals, but they would not part with the exotics. They would move on to other work with the exotics.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Q You said you would take them to county shows if the ban came into being. What sort of things would you be doing at county shows?

Peter Jolly:

A circus.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Q So if we decide to go down the route of banning wild animals in circuses, we also need to look at the definition of a circus. You said you have llamas and goats. What other animals do you have? Do you have dogs?

Peter Jolly:

Yes—dogs, fan-tailed pigeons.

Peter Jolly:

People call them doves, but they are actually fan-tailed pigeons. People always call them doves for some unknown reason. We have dogs, goats, llamas, ponies, donkeys.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Q What about you, Ms MacManus?

Carol MacManus:

We have eight horses, five ponies, a mule, a donkey, five llamas, two camels, one zebra, 38 pigeons, six doves, two reindeer, 10 dogs, six ducks, four chickens, two cats.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Q If the ban came into place and you could not use the wild animals, you would continue with the other animals.

Carol MacManus:

Yes.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Q You both said that you either would not get rid of them or would not know what to do with them, and that they could not stay at home. If you were doing county shows, though, that would not be every week.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

It would be occasional use, presumably.

Carol MacManus:

If we got work every week, would there be a difference? If we were working through winter-time with our reindeer jobs, we could be out every single day.

Carol MacManus:

And we could be taking them up and down the country, all over the place—much further than we ever travel.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Q I don’t know about that, but I have seen reindeer in situations at Christmas. I do not know where they have come from or whether they are resident there, but I think it is the fact that they are moving every single week that is seen as the problem.

Carol MacManus:

But it is fine for reindeer and racing camels to be going up and down the motorway to different places and strange county shows, with maybe a drag-racing car going off next to you. I have had the circus in a county show area, when we were at Bakewell, and it is not nice.

Photo of Pauline Latham Pauline Latham Conservative, Mid Derbyshire

Q You were talking about being in safari parks, where cars were going past them, but in the confined space of a circus ring there are hundreds of people around them, in very close proximity, tapping, cheering, shouting,

Carol MacManus:

I think they quite like it, actually. Our zebra doesn’t like it if he does not perform; if, for any reason, he does not perform, he gets stressed. He knows when the music is on. He stands waiting at his door for the young lad to take him across to the ring to work with me—there is only one handler who handles him. He likes performing. When I had my old zebras, they used to free-range around the site. They would always be in the big top, where the shade was, or wandering round the site.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

Q I think you have given us food for thought. To pick up on what Ms Newton said, it is clear that you care very much about the welfare of your animals, and you are operating under a strong and robust regulatory regime at the moment. I am slightly confused about the point about car noise in a safari park.

Peter Jolly:

I was talking about fumes.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

You did speak about noise as well. Unless your audience is made up of children who subscribe to the Trappist way of life, they will make some noise. All I have to do is take my jacket off the hook and my dogs know that we are going for a walk —animals will always respond to those sorts of things.

Ms MacManus, your submission to us is dismissive of ethics, if I can put it that way. I can understand why you make that argument, but I want to ask whether you accept two things. First, do you accept that one rotten apple will spoil the barrel? In your sector, poor behaviour has shone a spotlight on the whole issue, which means that the good, the bad and the ugly get hit in exactly the same way.

Secondly, I do not say this to draw a direct comparison, but I am pretty certain that the family who were fourth generation bull or bear-baiters would have said, “But we’ve always done this; it is our way of life”, because that is what they would have known. Things change when perception and attitudes change. This almost goes back to my first question: do you accept that, just because one can, that does not necessarily mean that one should, and that in the general national consciousness the time of having wild/exotic animals in a circus for entertainment or educational purposes has reached its sell-by date, has passed and is a bit old hat, and that people want to move on because our ranking of animals has changed and is evolving?

Carol MacManus:

No.

Peter Jolly:

The majority of people still want to see circuses. You are talking about a handful of people who hit the media, Facebook and all that, who are whipping up this hysteria. When we go to a village or a small town, everybody wants to come and see the circus, which contradicts that. We would be out of business if we didn’t have the general public coming to visit us.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset

That’s a fair market counter-argument that you put.

Carol MacManus:

And we have moved with the times and we do make improvements—everybody makes improvements all the time.

Peter Jolly:

Just having the licensing scheme is moving forward. That was a move forward.

Carol MacManus:

Anybody here should read that before they make their decision, because the review on our reports speaks volumes.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

Q Two things. First, your basic argument, as I understand it, is that any wild animal—or exotic animal, as you call it—should be able to perform in these circuses.

Peter Jolly:

We might not want to use them, but what we are saying is that if they can be kept according to the proper methods and welfare, you should be allowed them. You should not be allowed them if you cannot meet the stringent welfare standards.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

Q May I ask you a couple of questions about that, then, and take, for example, a tiger? Tigers are solitary animals. Would you agree with that?

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

Q They roam across wide areas when they are in the natural world. Do you agree with that?

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

Q They very often have habitats of 60 sq km. Would you agree with that?

Peter Jolly:

Yes, in the wild.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

Q So would you agree that to put them in a circus would be to put them in a wholly artificial environment?

Carol MacManus:

I do not think these are questions that you need to be asking us.

Peter Jolly:

You are asking me, but I have not got tigers, so I cannot answer the question.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

Q Okay. The next thing I want to ask is this. You have horses on the one hand and camels on the other—you have camels, correct?

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

Q Do you detect any difference in the way that those two animals experience being in a circus? Before you answer, the evidence we heard this morning was, “Don’t worry, Mr Chalk. Horses are different because they’ve been domesticated over centuries.” My question is whether the experience of a camel is in fact any different from that of a horse.

Carol MacManus:

I think that the camels are much more laid back and less likely to get spooked. The horses pick up on little things and decide, “Oh, I don’t like that today. I don’t like that spotlight.” The camels just come in and do their little job. Sometimes the baby will have a little dance. They are definitely much more laid back and calm than the horses.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

That is all I wanted to ask.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

For my own understanding, and hopefully that of the Committee, I will try not to repeat things, but ask about a few things that seem to be at the heart of the argument and of the debate. You are saying that these animals are not, in any meaningful sense, wild, because they have been domesticated all their livesQ . Have they been tamed to the same extent as domesticated animals would be in this country?

Peter Jolly:

All our animals are, yes.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

Q So they are not wild animals according to a definition of the word that you would accept. They are just non-traditional kept animals.

Peter Jolly:

That is right.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

Q You are saying that the evidence shows—correct me if I am wrong; if you could point to the evidence, that would be great—that their levels of stress are no different from other animals. One of the central arguments we heard this morning was that being in a circus was not true to their nature.

Peter Jolly:

The thing is, we cannot explain it without people actually coming to see it. You have to see it for yourself. The animals are not stressed in any way. They are happy in the environment they are in. They are as far away from wild animals as you can get. We class it as handling; taming is not a word we use.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

Q Because they have not known an alternative existence that, according to people this morning, would have been more true to their nature.

Peter Jolly:

Camels have always been kept by one nation or another.

Carol MacManus:

There is evidence on the internet that there are only 100 wild camels left and that there are three different species of camel: the domestic dromedary, the domestic Bactrian and the feral Bactrian. We definitely do not have the feral Bactrian.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

Q The second central point seems to be the generalised discussion about whether having animals in circuses is an idea whose time has passed. You are obviously disputing that. Will you continue to keep animals in your circus, but just non-wild, legal ones that are more domesticated—horses and dogs?

Carol MacManus:

Well, we will have to. We will be forced to do that if the ban comes in, won’t we? We will still continue with animals in circus, yes.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

Q So you will continue with animals, but obviously not the “wild” ones, although you are challenging the definition of what is wild?

Carol MacManus:

Yes.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

Q Okay. One of the problems, as one of my colleagues mentioned earlier, is that there has been some bad publicity about this, which has obviously damaged the cause of having “wild” animals in circuses. Do you accept that there is a considerable difference, as Mr Chalk was saying, between having hunters such as lions and tigers in circuses, who do roam wildly and are in pain in an enclosed space, and more passive animals such as camels?

Peter Jolly:

We can’t really comment on that, because we do not have them. We do not work with them to see that.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

Q Fair enough, sir, but in your lifetime you will have come across circuses with wild hunters and not just—sorry, I do not know the correct term for something that is not a hunter.

Peter Jolly:

Predator.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

Q Yes. Apart from the fox, you do not have predators in your circus nowadays.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

Q Do you accept that there would have been a difference—morally or practically—between having predators such as a lion or a tiger and having non-predators in a circus?

Carol MacManus:

Not if they are kept correctly, no.

Peter Jolly:

It is all down to them being kept correctly, and to animal welfare standards being high. You have got to provide the facilities.

Photo of Bob Seely Bob Seely Conservative, Isle of Wight

Q I am guessing here because I am no expert on this, but it seems to be a more complex argument to make that you can hold a lion or a tiger in a captive environment and give that animal a happy life, in the same way as you can a camel. I can actually readily accept the argument for the camel, given that camels hang out with people and have done for thousands of years.

Peter Jolly:

My camels are in 10 acres of ground at the moment.

Carol MacManus:

We are not asking for that. We are asking if there is any possibility, somehow or other, to make a little amendment so that our animals can carry on travelling—

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

I will have to interrupt. We only have three minutes left.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

Q I just have a couple of questions. Thanks for coming along today—we appreciate it. In terms of the animals we are talking about now and the ones you have, I understand that you want them to carry on travelling. As you know, the legislation we are considering at the moment does not allow for that, so I just wanted to ask again about retirement plans for the animals. Mr Jolly, you seemed to indicate that this might be enough for you to decide that you do not want to carry on in the circus arena anymore, and you, Ms MacManus, you were not too clear what was going on.

Carol MacManus:

I don’t think it is fair on the animals.

Carol MacManus:

If I leave my camels behind, I would have to leave some llamas and horses behind just to keep them company. They were really stressed when I could not take them to Spalding.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

Q When you talk about leaving them behind, do you have people at your winter base all the time?

Carol MacManus:

I wouldn’t just turn them all out in the field and hope they were still there when I got back next week or next year.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

Q Forgive me, I do not know how your operating model works. You do have people at your winter quarters throughout the year?

Carol MacManus:

At the moment, no, but we would have to put that in place, because we would have to look after the animals.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

Q So that would mean that, although you do not have definitive plans, you have options for your two reindeer, your zebra and your two camels.

Carol MacManus:

If it makes a difference on the Bill, I could say I am just going to have them all put to sleep, but I do not think it would make any difference. So, yes, there are plans in place.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

Q Thank you very much.

I have one other quick question. There is a lot of public interest in this Bill, and some people want to see this happen as soon possible. If the legislation was put in place before 20 January 2020—I think that is the deadline; is that right?—would you be able to cope with that in terms of your plans?

Carol MacManus:

But I thought we were still licensed and that our licence was valid until January 2020. I am not a lawyer, so I do not know. I would have to get a lawyer on to that case. I thought we were safe until January 2020.

Peter Jolly:

If it goes on till 2020, we are in the winter quarters anyway.

Carol MacManus:

But say a ban comes in next week.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

Q It will not be next week, but what if it was brought forward earlier?

Peter Jolly:

We travel until November.

Carol MacManus:

Won’t that contradict the legislation that is in place?

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

Order. I am sorry, but the time has passed so quickly. I want to thank our two witnesses for the time you spent with us. We thank you for your full and frank responses to the questions. You have given very valuable evidence to the Committee. Thank you very much indeed.

Carol MacManus:

Thank you for having us.