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Great British Circus Ltd was a company that specialized in circus entertainment. Unusually for a UK-based circus company it included wild animals such as tigers, camels and lions in its acts. Martin Lacey, was the company's owner and Circus Director, and in 2012, at the age of 70, announced he would Retire, and the Great British Circus would not return for a 2013 Season.
Martin Lacey defends the company's approach as follows: "The Circus takes veterinary advice from world-respected experts, not from campaign groups who too often seek to excite public sympathy in their quest for donations and support.". Martin Lacey has bred tigers for many years and provided most of the tigers used in the Esso oil television advertisements up until the 1970s.
In April 2007 the Advertising Standards Authority (United Kingdom) upheld a complaint against the company's claim that it was "Voted No.1 for Animal Care". In February 2009 The Independent reported that the company brought performing elephants to a UK circus for the first time in ten years.
That this House shares the RSPCA's deep concern at the recent introduction of elephants into a circus in Nottinghamshire; hopes that the public will boycott the circus in protest; believes that the Government should intervene in this case and state categorically that it opposes the use of wild species in circuses; and urges the Government to bring forward proposals to ban the use of wild animals in circuses without further delay.
That this House notes with concern the continuing use of non-domesticated animals in circuses and more recently the re-introduction of elephants by the Great British Circus; is increasingly concerned by the delay of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in reporting on increasing amounts of evidence surrounding poor animal welfare standards in circuses; believes that the report of the Chair of the Circus Working Group fails to provide reliable information on this subject; supports the work of the Captive Animals Protection Society and others in achieving an end to animal use in circuses; and urges the Government to maintain its commitment to ban the use of non-domesticated animals in travelling circuses and to limit the use of domesticated species under a strict, accountable and open licensing system.
This motion was signed by 78 MPs.
In June 2008 the circus was criticised for the use of adult tigers and cubs.
In August 2009 an undercover investigation secretly filmed a member of the circus staff hitting an elephant with a metal hook. The staff member was subsequently sacked.
On 19 October 2009 the company was referred to in allegations in a BBC documentary that visitor attraction Noah's Ark Zoo Farm secretly looked after animals on its behalf.  Noah's Ark Zoo Farm was subsequently expelled from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) in December 2009: BIAZA noted in a statement that 'The reasons for termination are due to a refusal to provide BIAZA with information when requested and entering into an arrangement with the Great British Circus, which contravenes the Animal Transaction Policy, despite having been warned of possible consequences' and that 'the behaviour of NAZF has brought the association into disrepute' .