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Imelda Staunton calls for wild animals in circuses to be banned

Imelda Staunton has backed a campaign calling for the use of wild animals in circuses to be banned.

The actor, along with Roger Moore, has written to the Queen urging her to include a commitment to the ban in her speech at the State Opening of Parliament on June 4.

The letter, which supports Animal Defenders International’s Stop Circus Suffering campaign, raises concerns that despite government promises, “little progress has been made to bring this long overdue legislation into law.”

In the letter Staunton and Moore state: “The travelling circus environment can never adequately meet the complex needs of wild animals. Circus animals are forced to endure constant travel and cramped, temporary accommodation, and often spend prolonged periods either tethered or in confinement.

“Animal Defenders International has exposed many instances of abuse, such as that meted out to Trudy the chimp, who was kicked and beaten by her trainer Mary Chipperfield, and Anne the elephant, who was chained to the ground and beaten with a pitchfork at Bobby Roberts Circus. We cannot allow this cruelty and deprivation to continue.”

Last month, David Cameron reaffirmed his commitment to the issue after 75 politicians and celebrities, including Judi Dench, Prunella Scales and Dominic West, signed a letter demanding swifter action.

In March 2012 the government announced its intention to introduce legislation prohibiting wild animal use, however following the publication of the Draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill last April, little progress has been made to bring the legislation into law.

Meanwhile, the Scottish government is currently in the final stages of a national consultation on wild animal use in circuses, with results to be announced later in the year.

A similar consultation conducted by Defra in 2012 recorded support for a ban from 94.5% of respondents.

Staunton, who is currently starring in Good People at London’s Noel Coward Theatre, expressed concern at a “lack of commitment” from government on the issue, which is already illegal in 27 countries.

Chief executive of ADI, Jan Creamer, said: “I am delighted that Sir Roger Moore and Imelda Staunton OBE are urging the Queen to support the promised ban on wild animals in circuses, which has support from the public and politicians alike.”