Racial Prejudice and the Performing Animals Controversy in Early Twentieth-Century Britain

In: Society & Animals
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Cumbria;, Email: david.wilson@cumbria.ac.uk

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



This paper attempts to show how racial prejudice and selective, usually inarticulate, racial discrimination influenced attempts to conduct an objective examination of charges of cruelty in the training and exhibition of performing animals in Britain in the early twentieth century. As the debate intensified, and following the appointment of a parliamentary Select Committee, one explanation often given by both sides for shortcomings in the treatment of performing animals was the alleged cruelty particularly or exclusively attributable to the “alien enemy,” “foreigners,” and distinct racial groups. The Committee faced the problem of assessing attributions of real cruelty as opposed to unproven charges that may have resulted from irrational, emotive, or strategic prejudice. This paper examines the context in which such charges were made, and the degree to which they might have been introduced or resorted to in order to serve the prejudices or interests of each side in the controversy.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 125 50 6
Full Text Views 65 10 2
PDF Views & Downloads 47 14 2