Scotland bans use of wild animals in travelling circuses

New measure is likely to place fresh pressure on UK Government to follow suit

Benjamin Kentish
Thursday 21 December 2017 15:10
Animal rights campaigners welcomed the ban, saying it would help stop animal suffering
Animal rights campaigners welcomed the ban, saying it would help stop animal suffering

Scotland has banned the use of wild animals in circuses, becoming the first of the UK’s nations to do so.

Under new legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament, travelling circuses that use wild animals will be banned from entering the country.

The bill was introduced by Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland’s Environment Secretary. It followed a public consultation that showed widespread backing for the measure, with 98 per cent of respondents supporting a ban.

Ms Cunningham said: “This is an important Act that will not only prevent travelling circuses ever showing wild animals in Scotland in the future, but will demonstrate to the wider world that we are one of the growing number of countries that no longer condones the use of wild animals in this way.”

The law does not specifically define “wild animal”, meaning courts will be allowed to interpret it broadly in order to give animals maximum protection.

Others, however, said the bill should go further and ban the use of wild animals in static circuses, as well as bird of prey displays and sports such as greyhound racing.

Mike Ruskell, the Scottish Greens’ environment spokesperson, said: “I’m delighted that Holyrood has finally approved a bill to ban this abuse, joining dozens of other countries around the world. The Scottish government must now look at banning the use of wild animals in static circuses and further regulation of performances where the welfare of animals may be compromised.”

There have long been calls for the whole of the UK to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. In 2013, the Coalition Government announced plans to introduce a ban. However, legislation has still not been passed.

Following the Scottish vote, Jan Creamer, president of the charity Animal Defenders International, said: “The public called for a ban, and the Scottish Government and Parliament listened, banishing travelling circuses with wild animals forever. Meanwhile, England continues to sit on its hands, and a bill nearly five years old – no more delays, it’s time to stop circus suffering.”

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