Olympic ceremony could fall foul of animal welfare laws

Posted on the 13th June 2012

Animal Aid has today written to Bill Morris, Director of Ceremonies of the London Olympics Organising Committee, urging him to end the planned use of live animals at the opening ceremony, and to remind him of the duty of care enforced by the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The opening ceremony will reportedly feature sheep, cows, horses, chickens and ducks in an idyllic pastoral scene. But – according to the campaign organisation – it is hard to imagine a more inappropriate setting for animals than amid an 80,000-strong thunderous crowd while fireworks are being set off.

Animal Aid wrote to Bill Morris: 

‘Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, you have a duty of care to animals. It is an offence ‘to cause physical or mental suffering, whether this is by a positive act or an omission, to a protected animal where this is unnecessary and the person knew or could be expected to know that an animal would suffer as a result.’ (Explanatory Notes).


‘The Act itself is clear: ‘A person commits an offence if (a) an act of his, or a failure of his to act, causes an animal to suffer (b) he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have that effect or be likely to do so.’ – Section 4 (1)


‘A person commits an offence if he does not take such steps as are reasonable in all circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which he is responsible are met to the extent required by good practice.’– Section 9 (1)


‘There is no doubt that any animals brought inside the Olympic stadium before an 80,000-strong crowd would be at risk of suffering real harm. And there is no doubt that there would be grounds for a prosecution should any of the animals experience physical or mental suffering.


‘At the opening ceremony of the Seoul Olympics in 1988, a number of doves landed in the Olympic torch and were burned to death in front of the watching world. Are you willing to allow Britain to be seen in an equally negative light? If not, I urge you to remove the live animals from your plans.’


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