Henry Smith MP has led a House of Commons Adjournment Debate (on Tuesday, 24th January) calling for a ban on the advertising and sale at home of cruel animal activity experiences abroad.
Commenting after the debate had concluded, Henry said;
“I’m frequently inundated by messages from people in Crawley who are always looking for different ways which we can enhance protections for animals. With this being a cause close to my own heart I was pleased to lead this House of Commons debate highlighting the scale of animal experiences abroad, which many people simply don’t know are available as a result of cruelty towards some majestic creatures.
“Hundreds of thousands of wild animals each year are exploited for entertainment in the global tourism industry. Activities such as tiger cubs being made to pose for selfies, elephant rides and captive dolphin shows may appear benign, but actually rely on cruel treatment that harms the welfare of the animals.
“I’ll continue to push in Parliament for enhanced protections for animals, with the Public Bill Committee of my Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill taking place on Wednesday, 25th January.”
Speaking during the debate in the House of Commons, Henry said;
“This is, of course, the time of year when millions of people around the country start planning their summer holidays, many choosing to escape abroad for a week or two. Let us think, however, about those half a million captive wild animals who will never have any escape from the cruel reality that they suffer for tourist entertainment around the world.”
On the Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Bill, Henry said;
“I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Angela Richardson) on her Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Bill, intended to prohibit the sale and advertising of activities abroad that involve low standards of welfare for animals. I encourage colleagues across the House to support the Bill at its Second Reading on Friday 3rd February.”
On Asian elephants, Henry said;
“Numbers of Asian elephants—an iconic species beloved across the world—have fallen drastically from millions in the 19th century to barely 40,000 today, and nearly half of those live in brutal captivity. They suffer extreme coercion and cruelty across south east Asia and beyond, starting with their unlawful poaching from the wild, then the brutal breaking of their spirits by isolation and starvation, and stabbings and beatings for easy use in tourism. Those actions would be profoundly unlawful if committed here in the UK.”
On dolphins, Henry said;
“The captive dolphin entertainment industry similarly thrives on unimaginable cruelty. Thousands of dolphins are in captivity worldwide, subjected to adverse living conditions and forced to perform unnatural tricks in exchange for food. In the wild, dolphins can swim 100 km a day. The average tank size of the largest primary tank used at dolphin facilities is more than 200,000 times smaller than their natural home range. Tanks are often barren to allow visitors a better view, which results in little mental stimulation for the animals and nowhere for them to hide. No captive facility can ever meet the complex needs of these highly intelligent animals.”
Concluding his speech, Henry said;
“The landmark Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019 prohibited the exhibition or use of wild animals performing as part of a travelling circus in England. This House has made its feelings clear on this issue and must do again. Wild animals deserve the right to a wild life free from suffering. They are not commodities to be exploited and they are not ours to exploit.
“I remind the House of the sentiment set out by the then-Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the right hon. Member for Camborne & Redruth (George Eustice), in May 2021 in the action plan for animal welfare: “The way we treat animals reflects our values and the kind of people we are.” I could not agree more. Let this House of Commons support the Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Bill and take this opportunity to help tackle the cruel mistreatment of wild animals abroad.”
Please click here for the full text and video of Henry’s speech.