The show’s over for UK lion-taming

Britain’s last remaining lion tamer can longer make his lions and tiger perform

A long line of entertainers and animal trainers stretching back three centuries has reached its end in Thomas Chipperfield; the lion tamer has had his application for a license refused, meaning that he’s no longer able to perform with his tiger and two lions. He’s said he’ll appeal the decision, but it looks likely that British lion taming is about to receive its final curtain.


Licenses were introduced in 2013 requiring circuses with performing animals to be approved by Defra, in order to regulate the use of animals and ensure their welfare. Chipperfield apparently retracted his first application several years ago when allegations were made that his cats were kept in cramped accommodation and showing worrying behaviour, and this latest refusal is likely to signal the exit of big cat performances from the UK.


Scotland banned the use of wild animals in travelling circus performances at the end of 2017 and now England and Wales are following suit, with the Government pledging to impose a ban by 2020. This move is likely to be popular – research by the Government found that over 94 per cent of British people would like to see the abolition of animals in circus acts.


It’s not just the use of big cats in circuses that’s controversial. While many countries have banned or restricted the use of performing animals, there are still many shows around the world that entertain their audiences with elephants, bears, horses, chimps and other wild animals. We’ve explored the issues of animals in the big top in our latest issue, so delve in to find out what’s being done to help these unwilling attractions.



You can find Issue 58 of World of Animals in store and online