Travelling circuses will be banned from using wild animals in their shows in Britain, it was announced today.

Ministers unveiled plans to outlaw the “outdated” practice through new legislation at the “earliest opportunity”.

But a tough licensing regime will be brought in to improve conditions for performing animals while changes in the law are developed.

Animal welfare minister Lord Taylor said: “There is no place in today’s society for wild animals being used for our entertainment in travelling circuses. Wild animals deserve our respect.

“We have said many times we wanted to ban this outdated practice, but before we could do that there were serious legal issues we had to consider.

“We are developing proposals to introduce a bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.

“In the meantime we are introducing a Circus Licensing Scheme to ensure decent conditions for wild animals in travelling circuses.”

It comes after a push for action following revelations of the mistreatment of a circus elephant, Anne, last year.

MPs backed a blanket ban last June and though it was non-binding it was highly embarrassing for the Government, sparking Downing Street to later signal it would bow to pressure over the demands. But it warned that Government could be left open to lawsuits from circus owners and workers.

That is a hurdle that is still likely to make progress of the ban slow.

A consultation on the new welfare licences was launched today and the regulations are expected to come into force by the summer.

Anyone responsible for a travelling circus that uses wild animals in a performance will need to hold a valid licence, meet strict welfare standards and have a retirement plan for each animal.

They will also need to provide proper accommodation, full veterinary care, a good diet and high welfare standards during training and performances.

A dedicated Government-appointed inspector, paid for by the circuses, will ensure rules are met, officials said.

The Government said it will work with any circus owner that decides they do not want to keep their wild animals.

Between 35 and 50 wild animals, including tigers, camels, zebras and snakes, are understood to be used in circuses. Elephants are no longer kept in circuses in the UK.

Responses to "UK bans wild animals in circuses"

Write a comment