This week Belgium passed a bill introduced by the Minister for Animal Welfare that will ban the use of wild animals in circuses.
Concerns about the living conditions that animals who travel in circuses are forced to endure have raised concerns for some time. Last year, Belgium adopted laws that would require circuses to adhere to the same standards as zoos, but according to the Belgian animal advocacy organization Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA), those standards wouldn’t, or couldn’t, be met, reports FarmingUK.
While many cities in the country had banned circuses with wild animals, the organization and animal advocates continued to fight for a full ban.
“The government’s decision is the culmination of a ten-year long struggle conducted by GAIA for a Belgian ban on circuses with wild animals,” said Ann De Greef, Director of GAIA. “It is clear that the welfare of wild animals cannot be guaranteed in circuses; they have no place there. A ban is the only logical step. We are very pleased; it’s yet another victory in the fight for animals.”
Belgium now joins other progressive countries that have taken steps to stop cruelty by enacting bans on animals in circuses including Cyprus, Greece, Croatia, Columbia and Austria, which will be joined by the UK in 2015.
As the treatment of animals continues to gain attention, those advocating for their freedom continue to fight to end this industry’s exploitation of animals who have no business being forced to travel and perform ridiculous tricks for our entertainment.
Problems that different species face continue to be exposed and range from severe confinement, grueling transport, an inability to engage in natural behaviors, the stress of being forced to perform for large crowds and the physical and psychological issues that their living conditions cause.
In some situations animals are blatantly abused, but circus owners don’t seem to ever face the full repercussions of harming them, while taxpayers continue to foot heavy bills for inspections. According to the Performing Animal Welfare Society, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected the Carson & Barnes Circus 42 times from 2007 to 2010, which ended up costing $57,246. But the show continued to go on despite repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
In the U.S., animal advocates have been working to get the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (TEAPA), which would ban wild animals in circuses, passed.
It was introduced in 2011 by Rep. Jim Moran, but legislators failed to pass it. According to Animal Defenders International, which worked on the bill, they hope to reintroduce this vital piece of legislation again this year.
“Keeping elephants in chains, confining wild animals like lions and tigers in small cages, and forcing them to perform unnatural tricks for the sole purpose of human amusement is increasingly difficult to justify the more we learn about these intelligent, social creatures,” said Moran at the bill’s original announcement.
Please sign and share the petition urging lawmakers to ban wild animals in circuses in the U.S.
For more information on how to help animals in circuses, visit Stop Circus Suffering.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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