Animals to be banned from English circuses

According to a Government consultation 94.5 per cent of the public support the ban

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 08 January 2018 22:24
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England could follow Scotland in outlawing the use of animals in performances
England could follow Scotland in outlawing the use of animals in performances

Wild animals will be banned from circuses in England under plans reportedly due to be announced by Environment Secretary Michael Gove.

The move follows a public consultation in which 94.5 per cent of the public said they would support such a ban.

Animals in circuses are often subject to brutal and degrading treatment at the hands of circus masters – frequently beaten, starved and keep in unsanitary conditions while they are made to perform for crowds.

Scotland passed legislation to ban wild animals at the end of last year and over half of local authorities in the UK already refused to allow these types of circuses to perform in their boroughs.

Similarly more than 40 different countries around the world, including most of Europe, Latin America and several Asian countries, have already outlawed the practice.

But the Government has been dragging its heels on the subject in recent years even though former Prime Minister David Cameron promised to ban the practice in the Conservatives 2010 manifesto.

A bill was introduced by Mr Cameron’s 2015 Government which received widespread support from MPs and was expected to reach its second reading last year but the legislation fell after the snap election in the summer.

All legislation which has not received Royal Assent by the time a Parliament is dissolved automatically fails.

Animal rights campaigners raised concerns that the bill may not be reintroduced after it was omitted from the Queen’s Speech and the Government became preoccupied with Brexit.

But now Mr Gove is poised to reintroduce the legislation later this year but it will only apply to England because the issue is devolved in Wales and Northern Ireland, the Daily Mail reported.

In 2014 the Government introduced a licensing system with multiple conditions for wild animal travelling circuses but campaigners say this has allowed owners to continue to justify their existence, Sky News reported.

There are currently believed to be 19 animals performing in travelling circuses across England, according to the RSPCA.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told The Independent: “The Government wants to see an end to the use of wild animals in travelling circuses and will legislate for a ban as soon as parliamentary time allows.”

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