ANIMAL protection organisations have welcomed publication of the Scottish Government Bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland.
OneKind, Animal Defenders International, Born Free Foundation and Captive Animals’ Protection Society have all highlighted the inherent welfare issues and ethical concerns associated with the use of wild animals in performances.
The Bill covers all non-domesticated animals travelling and performing in circuses, and any form of display or exhibition in static premises such as winter quarters.
A Scottish Government consultation in 2014 showed a huge majority favoured banning the practice, with 98% of those questioned saying they thought the use of performing wild animals in travelling circuses should be prohibited.
The most recent Scottish poll, carried out for the More for Scotland’s Animals coalition found that 75% of those polled supported an end to the use of wild animals in circuses, rising to 78% in the 18-24 age group.
The ban will be made on ethical grounds reflecting respect for animals and their natural behaviours. The same approach was taken when the Scottish Parliament banned fur farming in 2002.
Libby Anderson, policy advisor for OneKind, added: “This legislation is important as it confirms Scotland’s status as a wild animal circus-free zone, and reflects the overwhelming weight of public opinion that these shows have had their day. We urge MSPs of all parties to give this Bill a safe passage and pave the way for a Scotland where animals are not needlessly exploited in the name of entertainment.”
Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, stated: “ADI congratulates the Government of Scotland on taking decisive action and joining 35 countries around the world to end the use of wild animals in circuses. The evidence shows circuses cannot meet the animals’ needs – England and Wales must now step up and prohibit these outdated acts.”
Chris Draper, Associate Director for Animal Welfare and Care at Born Free Foundation, said: “We congratulate the Scottish Government on becoming the first country in the UK to outlaw the archaic use of wild animals in travelling circuses.”
Once passed, the legislation will be the first outright ban on wild animal circuses anywhere in the UK, joining 18 European countries, and 35 around the world, with restrictions in place – and more in the pipeline.