Sir Roger on the side of the tiger

Roger Moore at the 2012 Monte-Carlo Television Festival. Photo: Frantogian
Roger Moore at the 2012 Monte-Carlo Television Festival. Photo: Frantogian

One of Monaco’s most eminent residents, Sir Roger Moore, has taken up arms against the use of animals in circus acts. In a letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May, the former Bond actor urged her to stick to a Conservative Party promise to ban wild animals in circuses.

Critics of Sir Roger have accused him of changing his stripes. Thirty years ago, in the film Octopussy, he played a short scene with a tiger and famously told it to “sit”.

The target of Sir Roger’s ire is the nephew of the man who played his stunt double in the movie, John Chipperfield, of the circus family that has trained circus animals for 300 years. Thomas Chipperfield, 26, has applied for a licence to tour England later this year with two lions and three tigers.

In his letter to the premier, Sir Roger said: “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.

“Madam Prime Minister, it’s time, past time, to do the right thing and finally bring a ban on this outdated form of so-called entertainment. I will put a bottle of Dom Perignon ’52 or Bollinger ’69 on ice for the occasion and gladly pop the cork with you.”

Anthony Beckwith, a co-owner of Chipperfield’s Circus, described the letter as “ludicrous”. However, several animal rights organisations have sided with Sir Roger, with one commenting that the famous Bond films show that performing animals are no longer needed to entertain people.

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