The Captive Animals' Protection Society is a UK charity campaigning to end the use of animals in entertainment, including circuses, zoos, the exotic pet trade and the audio-visual industry.


Founded in 1957 by retired school teacher Irene Heaton at a time when circuses were at their peak and all had animals.

In 1965, CAPS promoted a bill to the House of Lords, sponsored by Lord Somers (who was then president of CAPS) to prohibit the use of performing animals. Despite great support it was defeated by just 14 votes.

The 1970s saw CAPS organising demonstrations outside circuses. Pressure increased on animal circuses in the 1980s, gaining the support of the National Council of Women and local authorities started to prohibit circuses from using council land.

From 1975 to 1997, Sir Andrew Bowden served as its National President.[1]

In the mid-1980s CAPS started one of its most important campaigns, to stop animal acts at the prestigious Blackpool Tower Circus, where for six months of every year the animals were confined in the cellars of the tower. Three years later, it was announced that animal acts would stop at the circus once the contract expired in 1990. When the circus owner moved to the adjoining Pleasure Beach there were weekly demonstrations. Backed by vets and other experts, the campaign worked and in 1997 Blackpool Pleasure Beach announced there would be no more animal circuses on its land.

Three of the charity's former directors have been given awards for their work by the RSPCA.

CAPS became a registered charity in 2008.


CAPS has carried out undercover investigations[2] and researches the use of animals in entertainment. In 2004 it commissioned the largest and most in-depth investigation ever made into the public aquarium industry, revealing most animals to have been taken from the wild and disputing conservation claims by the industry.

Campaigning against the use of animals in circuses has remained the core focus, supporting protests against travelling circuses around the UK.[3]


The charity's patrons include politicians, academics and people from the world of arts:

Professor Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado

Mike Hancock, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament

Britta Jaschinski, world-renowned photographer

Jay Kay, Grammy Award-winning lead singer of Jamiroquai

Professor Randy Malamud, professor of English at Georgia State University

Dr Edgar Mann, ex-GP and member of the ancient Isle of Man Parliament

Fiona Oakes, elite marathon runner

Brian Sewell, art critic and columnist

Angela Smith, Baroness Smith of Basildon, Labour peer and former Labour Government Member of Parliament and Minister

Lady Stratford, wife of late Tony Banks, Baron Stratford

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner


External links

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