Scotland could introduce wild animal circus ban

Scottish Nationalists may ignore the “strong legal advice” given to the UK Government and introduce a ban on wild animals in circuses north of the border, according to officials.

A spokeswoman for the SNP administration said ministers would decide this summer whether to include a ban in Scotland’s next annual legislative programme in September, despite warnings from Westminster than a ban might provoke a legal challenge.

The statement follows a passionate debate in Hollywood in which SNP, Labour and Green MSPs criticised successive failures to bar tigers and other creatures from the big top, prompting the Scottish Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson to say their continued use was “unacceptable.”

Promising he would look for a way to resolve the issue, Mr Stevenson said: “The dilemma for ministers is how a ban could be introduced.”

As reported in The Independent, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in Westminister has rejected a ban in favour of a licensing system.

Circuses that use around 20 wild animals such as tigers and zebras say they are well-treated, but animal welfare organisations – and now a growing ban of celebrity campaigners – say a life of small enclosures and training and travelling mean they should be re-homed to wildlife parks and sanctuaries.

The animal welfare group Animal Defenders’ International has recruited several leading public figures to pressure the Government into introducing a ban. The comedian Ricky Gervais said: “I am appalled that wild animals are still kept in circuses and fully support the call for a ban. It is high time that Government got on and implemented one.”

Actors Brian Blessed and John Nettles, the BBC disc jockey Mark Radcliffe, the comedian Alexei Sayle and the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, made similar comments. Zephaniah said: “There are so many ways that intelligent human beings can have fun, and exploiting animals should not be one of them. Beautiful animals are not for our entertainment, in fact it’s our duty to respect and protect them. I am a real animal lover and I would never go to a circus that had wild animals.”

The Queen guitarist Brian May, also encouraged to speak out by ADI, said: “The use of wild animals in circuses is cruel, distasteful and unacceptable in the 21st century. Our present government is currently backing away from ending this abhorrent practice.”

Separately, the Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS) has enlisted the pop singer Jay Kay, from Jamiroquai. He said: “That circuses in this country are still forcing majestic animals, such as lions and tigers, to perform degrading tricks for cheap laughs is a saddening thought – but that the government are actively allowing it to continue against the will of the public, the experts and its own ministers simply beggars belief.”

CAPS director Liz Tyson said: “As England continues to hide behind perceived legal impediments, it will be interesting to see if our closest neighbours take the decision that Westminster seems determined to avoid, and make the right decision for the animals by imposing a ban.”

Animal welfare groups including the RSPCA and British Veterinary Association are backing The Independent’s campaign calling for Government ministers to rethink their decision. More than 26,000 people have signed the newspaper’s online petition. To sign visit independent.co.uk/circus animals.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas