A tiger at AAP Primadomus
A tiger at AAP Primadomus (not one of the tigers from Italy)

Brussels, July 11th - Following last week’s news that Ettore Weber, an experienced tamer, died after being attacked by his tigers during a rehearsal, the question of what to do with the animals has arisen. With the immediate fate of the eight tigers now resting with an Italian judge, AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection based in the Netherlands has proposed to immediately facilitate the tigers’ transfer to its rehabilitation facility in Spain.

On this occasion, AAP, together with animal welfare organisations around Europe, reiterates the call to the European Commission to introduce an EU-wide ban on wild animals in circuses. A petition supporting this call has already collected more than 860,000 signatures. The new European Parliament offers a clear opportunity with 94 newly-elected MEPs having pledged to support legislation on a ban.

AAP’s CEO David Van Gennep is clear: “The EU has a responsibility to protect its animals and its citizens. Rescue centres are ready to step in and look for solutions for the animals with all involved stakeholders. A majority of Europeans want another kind of circus, without animals suffering. The time to act is now”.

AAP is preparing the rescue together with the Lega Antivivisezione (LAV), which is leading the campaign to end the use of animals in circuses in Italy. LAV has called Weber’s death a “tragedy forewarned” and is urging the Italian government to accelerate the process towards implementing the already announced ban on animal acts.

Van Gennep said: “We are relieved that we have enough capacity to take in these animals at such short notice. It is very unclear what would happen to them otherwise, due to the lack of suitable rescue options in Italy.”

“This new incident, the latest in a very long line of accidents, makes clear that the continued use of wild animals in circuses is not only detrimental to the welfare of the animals, but also poses a serious public health and safety risk,” Van Gennep adds. Indeed, a report by Eurogroup for Animals in 2017 identified hundreds of incidents throughout the EU in a period of 22 years, including multiple fatalities.

Although a majority of EU Member States have already introduced restrictions on the use of wild animals in circuses or have banned them entirely, the fact remains that circuses are still allowed to move freely and transit through countries where those performances are no longer permitted, for reasons linked to public health and safety concerns. The serious road crash in Spain in the spring of 2018, which left one elephant dead and two severely injured, and which miraculously did not involve human casualties, is a reminder of the risks to citizens and animals.

“And this is for no other reason than to provide a cruel and outdated form of entertainment,” Van Gennep underscores.