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Wild animals in circuses

Circus zebras 2007. © Captive Animals' Protection Society

We’re campaigning against the use of wild animals in circuses and lobbying Westminster to ban their use in England, as other countries have already done.

We don't believe animals should be subjected to the conditions of circus life. Regular transport, cramped and bare temporary housing, forced training and performance, loud noises and crowds of people are often unavoidable realities for the animals.

Scientific research has shown that travelling circus life is likely to have a harmful effect on animal welfare [1].

Do circuses still use animals?

Some circuses in Britain currently tour with wild animals, including zebras, camels, snakes, a fox, a raccoon and a macaw.

Circus animals are protected by the Animal Welfare Act. Wild animals must be licensed in England but there is no law to stop circuses using certain types of animals.

Will circuses be banned from using animals?

The government in Westminster announced a ban in March 2012 on wild animals in circuses in England, with a licensing scheme in the interim. We're seriously concerned about the lack of firm commitment to a timetable for implementing a ban.

Worryingly, a report produced by the EFRA select committee of MPs questioned the need to ban all wild animals from circuses, and even assumes the public only care about the more iconic, charismatic wild animals, like tigers and elephants.

Take action!

Ask the government to keep their promise to end the use of all wild animals in circuses by 2015!

If your local authority has allowed animal circuses on council-owned land, you can write a letter expressing your concern to your local councillor. 


[1]  Harris S, Iossa G & Soulsbury CD (2006) A review of the welfare of wild animals in circuses (PDF 404KB). Report submitted to the Circus Working Group, 4 December.

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