Wales considers banning use of wild animals in circuses to wipe out 'cruel practice'

RSPCA hails proposal to end 'outdated' custom

Jeff Farrell
Thursday 15 February 2018 17:34
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The days of wild animals entertaining audiences could end in Wales
The days of wild animals entertaining audiences could end in Wales

The use of wild animals in circus acts in Wales could be banned after the Welsh government said it was "exploring opportunities" to end the practice.

Labour's rural affairs secretary in Cardiff, Lesley Griffiths, announced the move targeting touring performance shows, saying it was "important the welfare needs of their animals are not overlooked".

Ms Griffiths said she “intended to learn” from ministers in Scotland, where a law passed last year to ban wild animals in travelling circuses proved popular with audiences.

She said officials would examine how the legislation was drafted there, saying that "ethical and welfare arguments for a ban" would be looked at before a similar law was introduced.

RSPCA Cymru applauded the plans. Claire Lawson, the charity's assistant director of external relations, told The Independent: “This is a momentous day for animals - with the sight of wild animals touring in circuses in Wales set to be consigned to the history books once and for all.

“The RSPCA has fought for years to see this ban become a reality - and we are absolutely delighted that the Welsh Government has confirmed its intention to bring forward legislation to end this outdated and cruel practice on this country’s soil.”

Campaign group Animal Defenders International also welcomed the move, saying a ban was “long overdue”. Its president, Jan Creamer, told The Independent: “A wild animal circus ban in Wales is what the public demands and the animals need and we hope legislation will be passed swiftly.

“Travelling circuses simply cannot meet the needs of the animals, and legislation to end these outdated acts is long overdue.”

Investigations by the group in the past found that wild animals being held by circuses for acts in the UK and elsewhere were often “subjected to brutal training methods and violence”.

The use of wild animals in circus acts has already been outlawed in the Republic of Ireland since January.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said last month the Government wanted to see "an end to the use of wild animals in travelling circuses" and that it would "legislate for a ban as soon as parliamentary time allows".

The Independent contacted the office of Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, to see whether he would consider a similar move for England. There was no immediate reply.

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