Travelling circuses face ban on using wild animals

Travelling circuses will be banned from using wild animals from next year, Michael Gove has said.

The Environment Secretary announced a new Bill to prevent animals such as reindeer, zebras and camels being forced to perform in circuses in England.

The Wild Animals in Circuses Bill follows the Government’s pledge in February 2018 to introduce a ban by the time the existing interim licensing regulations expire in January 2020.

It comes after the Scottish Government was the first in the UK to pass legislation to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in 2017.

In July last year, the then Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones announced that the Welsh Government will introduce similar legislation in the next 12 months.

Mr Gove said: “Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals in the 21st century and I am pleased that this legislation will put an end to this practice for good.

“Today’s announcement follows other measures we have taken to strengthen our position as a world leader on animal protection.

“This includes our ban on ivory sales to protect elephants, and delivering Finn’s Law to strengthen the protection of service animals.”

Animal welfare charities which have been campaigning for a ban welcomed the news.

David Bowles, head of public affairs at the RSPCA, said: “We really welcome the Government introducing a Bill to ban the outdated practice of using wild animals in circuses.

“We’ve campaigned against having wild animals in circuses for many years. They have complex needs that cannot be properly met in a circus environment.

“It’s high time keeping wild animals in circuses is consigned to the history books and we look forward to the day that it is banned for good in England.”

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