Announcement on wild animals in circuses ban


Single juvenile Macaw perching on branch © RSPCA

The UK Government has announced plans to bring the proposed ban on wild animals in circuses in England before MPs, as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

Having campaigned for an end to wild animals performing in circuses for many years, we’re pleased by Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s announcement that he plans to reintroduce previously proposed legislation to outlaw wild animals in circuses.

Welcome news

Our senior scientific manager and captive wild animals specialist, Dr Ros Clubb, said:

We welcome this news – keeping wild animals in circuses should be consigned to the history books and we look forward to the day that it’s banned for good in England.

We’ve been calling for a ban on wild animals in circuses in England and Wales for so many years now, and 94 percent of the public (as polled in a government consultation) are also in favour of outlawing animals in circuses.

We hope the new announcement means that we’ll be seeing a ban on wild animals in circuses becoming law in the near future.

Their needs can never be adequately met

Dr Ros Clubb continued:

The complex needs of wild animals can never be adequately met in a circus environment and regular transport, cramped and bare temporary housing, forced training and performance are all unavoidable realities for the animals.

The impact of circuses on wild animal welfare is serious and potentially debilitating for each and every wild animal involved. These animals are forced to endure the constant travel, cramped temporary cages, and noisy conditions of a circus.

A ban would finally put an end to dragging wild animals around the country with circuses in the name of entertainment and put England on a par with the other countries including Ireland and Scotland that have already or are bringing in a ban.

There are currently sixteen animals performing in circuses in England – six reindeer, three camels, three zebra, one fox, one macaw, one racoon, and one zebu.

A five year wait

Five years ago, the UK Government announced that it would implement a long overdue ban on wild animals in circuses. The draft legislation was introduced by David Cameron in 2013 and had widespread support from MPs, but it failed to become law.

Although Michael Gove’s announcement doesn’t mean that the ban will immediately become law in England, we’re optimistic that it’s a sign the UK Government is treating this important welfare issue with the weight that it deserves.

A ban in the Republic of Ireland and Scotland

Scotland and the Republic of Ireland are already in the process of banning the practice. And many of our neighbours in Europe and further abroad have succeeded in imposing bans on all wild animals – or key species of wild animal – performing in circuses.

Wales recently announced that it'll be bringing forward a licensing scheme for mobile animal exhibits. We’re working closely with the Welsh Government, and other stakeholders, to ensure the new rulings deliver the best outcome for animals across Wales.

Campaign for better animal welfare

The ban on wild animals in circuses isn't in place yet. We must ensure that the recent proposal in England is followed through, and that the Welsh consultation on mobile animal exhibits results in a good deal for performing wild animals.

Be a part of our campaign to ban wild animals in circuses, and other campaigns for better animal welfare across England and Wales, by signing up to our campaign newsletter.

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