On Monday (May 28th), Scotland will become the first UK nation to enact legislation banning the use of wild animals in circuses. Celebrating the popular measure, Animal Defenders International (ADI) has renewed its call to other UK nations to follow their lead and stop circus suffering in Great Britain.
Five months after the government bill was unanimously passed by MSPs, The Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Act 2018 is coming into force on 28 May 2018.
After a public consultation in 2015 which found that an overwhelming 98% of respondents supported a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses over 13,000 PETA supporters contacted the Scottish government asking them to follow through with introducing the ban as soon as possible.
Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, said:
“Having campaigned for many years to end the suffering of circus animals, we are thrilled that Scotland has taken action. We now look to England, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow their lead and deliver the UK-wide legislation that the public have long wanted and the animals so desperately need.”
Although there are currently no circuses with wild animals based in Scotland, these have visited in the past from England where the use of animals in travelling circuses has yet to be banned. Thankfully the new legislation will prevent them from touring in future.
A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in England has been promised by successive UK Governments for more than a decade. However, in February, the government indicated a ban would soon be in place.
Ministers have been promising to implement a ban for five years, but the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed one will come into place by 19 January 2020. This date coincides with when temporary regulations governing circuses with wild animals expire.
In Wales, a statement on the issue is expected this summer as the Welsh Government is under increasing pressure to act after a ban was overwhelmingly backed in the Assembly during a debate in March.
Given the constant travel and their temporary nature, circuses cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them physically or psychologically healthy meaning that their welfare is inevitably compromised.
Animals in circuses can also be subjected to brutal training methods and violence in a bid to subdue the animals and make them compliant. Sadly, wherever ADI has conducted an undercover investigation in the UK and around the world it has documented serious acts of abuse against animals in circuses, highlighting the need to ban their use.
ADI is currently working with the authorities in Guatemala to help enforce legislation that will ban the use of animals in circus acts, as a new law was passed in 2017 which took effect last month.
ADI has so far removed three lions from the first circus in Guatemala last week and is seeking urgent funds to save dozens more. If you would like to donate to help wi this mission you can do so here: https://donate.ad-international.org/guatemala/