3 JANUARY 1931, Page 21


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

SIR,—Mr. Joseph Woodward, in his letter to you on the subject of performing animals, describes the charges which the R.S.P.C.A. makes against exhibitors of performing animals as " ages ago." May I point out that these charges are based on the evidence given before the Select Committee, 1921-22, which evidence has not been refuted?

Further,. Mr. Woodward refers to the " secret cruelty which could never be concealed or go unpunished if it actually existed." Mr. Woodward knows quite well that the majority of performing animals are trained abroad. The R.S.P.C.A. inspectors do not work outside England and Wales.

Apart from any cruelty in the training of performing animals, this Society maintains that cruelty is caused by the very unnatural conditions under which the animals are compelled to live when they are taken about the country in small cages. The Society successfully conducted a case of this kind only last month, and secured the conviction of the offender.

Further, Mr. Woodward says that the Amending Bill to the Performing Animals Act, introduced by Lord Danesfort, " gives exclusive privileges to zoological societies for unre- stricted exhibiting and training." The Bill does nothing of the kind. The Bill seeks to prohibit the exhibiting or training as performing animals of any chimpanzees. and all anthropoid apes, lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, pumas, hyenas or cheetahs. The Bill is not to apply " to the Zoological Society of London or to any other society or association which has for its principal object the exhibition of animals for educational or scientific purposes." I am quoting from the Bill, and it will be- seen that it does not give power to any zoological society to train any one_ of the animals 1 have mentioned. May I also point out that_ Jack_ London's book, Michael, Brother of Jerry (not Jerry, the Brother of Michael), was based on first-hand information obtained by the author? There is nothing fictitious about it,

I had intended to ask Mr. Woodward why, if " it is all done by kindness," does the animal trainer invariably carry a whip. But an Exchange message from Berlin, published in our evening papers of December 22nd, gives the reply to that question. Here is the message :-

" An animal trainer who was showing two monkeys in a Berlin music-hall for the first time, could not persuade them to go through their tricks, and resorted to the whip. The audience protested so loudly that the curtain had to be rung down. The management) dismissed the trainer on the spot. The trainer sought to recover damages, but the court has given a ruling considered of much importance as establishing a precedent. It says the management of a music-hall cannot be called upon to permit torture of animals on its stage."

Now then, Mr. Woodward, will you still maintain it is all done by kindness " ?—I am, Sir, &c.,