Tuesday, 09 Jan 2007 14:43
Disgraced circus trainer Mary Chipperfield made a Christmas comeback with her daughter, Suzanne Chipperfield in Lisbon at the ‘Circo Natal’ at the ‘Coliseu dos Recreios’ with a group of four tigers she had trained and looked after. The circus appeared in Lisbon up to 26th December with earlier shows in the month restricted to corporate guests and public shows from 22nd December.
Field Officers from Animal Defenders International (ADI) secured video and photographs of Suzanne and Mary Chipperfield with the tigers behind the scenes at Circo Natal.
Suzanne Chipperfield told an ADI Field Officer, that she was just doing the show for fun and it was effectively financed by the sale of white tigers to zoos. She said that the tigers were trained in Spain by her mother, Mary Chipperfield.
The show in Lisbon featured four tigers (Dora, Sacha, Jackie, and Raffie, – the latter is ‘straddled / ridden’ by Suzanne during the show) all less than two years old on their first tour. All were born in Spain by the same parents (their father is white):
The tigers were kept in a beastwagon, a cage on the back of a lorry, in the Lisbon centre for almost a month. When these were observed by ADI, the animals were lying on the bare floor of the cages without bedding, only inside one section were there a handful of wood shavings. There was a very small outside enclosure made of concrete, with a log inside, a raised platform and a very shallow tub (for water). However, ADI did not see the animals in this, there were no signs of use, and there appeared to be no direct access from the tiger cages.
The case highlights the impoverished conditions in which animals with circuses continue to tour and also a fear amongst campaigners that if the Government is not decisive on this issue some of the acts which have been driven out of the UK by public opinion will come creeping back. Mary Chipperfield’s cousin, Dicky Chipperfield, has been working as a consultant lion and tiger with Circus Pinder in France.
In the coming months an academic panel will be reviewing evidence on which wild animals are not suited to the circus environment. ADI is a member of the Defra Circus Working Group [ http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/welfare/bill/circus_wg.htm ] and has submitted a substantial dossier of evidence, following Defra Minister Ben Bradshaw’s announcement to the House of Commons that certain non-domesticated species will be banned from travelling circuses.
Tim Phillips, Campaigns Director for ADI, said: “Circuses are no place for animals. You simply cannot provide for the needs of animals in temporary encampments that need to be packed up and transported on the back of a lorry. We need decisive action from the Government to end this archaic practice and to take a lead in Europe with countries like Austria to secure Europe-wide action. It is tragic that Mary Chipperfield can be convicted on 13 counts of cruelty, can state in court that she would do it all again, but can continue training performing animals anywhere in Europe.”
ADI’s Stop Circus Suffering campaign is now running in countries all over the world, including Portugal, where undercover ADI Field officers secured shocking video evidence of ponies being repeatedly whipped in training and elephants being jabbed around the eyes with a metal spike . The ADI Stop Circus Suffering campaign in Portugal is run with local campaign group ANIMAL. Already Austria has a ban on wild animal acts and a prohibition in the UK would bring a Europe ban closer – bringing this sad chapter of the use of animals in entertainment to an end.
This was the first time disgraced Mary Chipperfield has been seen with a circus since she was convicted of thirteen counts of cruelty to an infant chimpanzee called Trudy, and her husband (Roger Cawley) of cruelty to an elephant (Flora). The evidence for the trial had been collected by two ADI Field Officers working undercover at the Headquarters of Mary Chipperfield Promotions in Hampshire.
Chipperfield famously said at her trail that she regretted nothing and would do it all again. ADI Field Officers had filmed her kicking and thrashing a baby chimpanzee with a riding crop.
Following the 1999 convictions, Chipperfield closed her multi-million pound animal supply operation in Hampshire (which had supplied animals to circuses, zoos, and block-buster films like Disney’s 101 Dalmations) and moved to the other much smaller Mary Chipperfield Promotions facility in Spain. This facility continues to breed and supply tigers to zoos and safari parks.
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