Former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore has been accused of hypocrisy for campaigning against the use of wild animals in circuses.
Sir Roger, 89, is trying to stop plans by Britain’s last remaining lion tamer, Thomas Chipperfield, to apply for permission to tour England this year with a show featuring two lions and three tigers.
In an open letter to British prime minster Theresa May, Moore urged her to fulfil a Conservative manifesto pledge to ban wild animals in circuses.
He wrote: “Wild animals in real life must feel as if they’ve been captured by the fictional Dr No. When they’re not being forced to perform confusing tricks under threat of the whip they’re chained up or tied down. Until a ban is imposed, Britain continues to say ‘Roll up, roll up’ to abuse. Madam Prime Minister, it’s time — past time — to do the right thing and finally bring in a ban on this outdated form of so-called entertainment. I will put a bottle of Dom Pérignon ’52 or Bollinger ’69 on ice for the occasion and gladly pop the cork with you.”
But Moore, now a renowned animal rights defender, has been lambasted for his actions.
Chipperfield, 26, has pointed out that Moore accepted a considerable fee to star in the 1983 Bond film Octopussy, which featured performing tigers and elephants and also involved two of Chipperfield’s own uncles.
Chipperfield said: “It comes with deep sadness to see Sir Roger Moore speak out against animals in circuses as he has worked with them himself. My uncle John Chipperfield played his stunt double in Octopussy in the tiger scene and they were my Uncle Dickie’s tigers. The film also featured circus elephants and other animals and grossed $187 million at the box office. He had no issue with circus animals when he was earning money from them himself.”
Anthony Beckwith, who co-owns the circus with Chipperfield, added that Moore’s letter failed to mention the strict regulations in place to protect the welfare of circus animals. He said: “Maybe if he researched the issue further, he wouldn’t be writing such ludicrous letters, making outrageous and unfounded claims.”