The UK Government Will Ban Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses!

UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced a new bill to finally ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.

For a number of years now the UK has prevented wild animals from performing in circuses, and Scotland has already moved to ban wild animals used for entertainment. However, circuses in England have been able to tour with a number of wild species, including but not limited to zebra, reindeer and camels.

Currently, there are just two traveling circuses licensed for this in England: Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus. However, for animal welfare defenders that is two circuses too many.

In announcing the change to the law, Secretary Gove made it clear that the time for wild animals in circuses is now over: “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.”

The fight to get to this point has been a long one. For years, animal rights groups, including Animal Defenders International, have repeatedly documented the horrific abuses of wild animals in traveling circuses, including animals being kept in small confines, being beaten and being starved.

The traveling circus industry has waned in the UK as a result of these high-profile revelations and a broader disquiet among the general public about using animals for entertainment. While there are currently no wild elephants or big cats in UK circuses, circuses in the UK did use elephants in shows as recently as in 2011.

It’s worth noting that while this national ban is a critical step, many local council governments have already enforced bans on wild animals in circuses. While this national legislation is certainly welcome, it formalizes bans that were already in force for many regions of England.

When the government announced the changes over 12 months ago the Welsh government announced it would introduce mirror legislation to ensure the ban would cover both England and Wales. Scotland has had a nationwide ban on wild animals in circuses since 2017.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International is said: “This legislation has been a long time coming and as successive UK governments have prevaricated, more than half of the world’s circus bans have passed. After years of promises, and shocking scenes of suffering documented by Animal Defenders International, we cannot wait to see the day when wild animal circus acts are finally banned across the UK.”

Technically, circuses may continue to use domestic animals—such as donkeys, cows and horses—however these animals have protections under the Animal Welfare Act and appetite for such shows has been low. Nevertheless, there will still be inspections to ensure these animals are being respected and well treated.

Simon Doherty, BVA President, hits on exactly why this change of the law is important in a wider sense: “We are delighted to see this coming into law following a long and sustained campaign and a huge groundswell of public support. While this issue may not affect a great number of individual animals, a ban is emblematic of how we should be treating animals in modern world.”

The new bill does still need to go through Parliament. In the past, a small proportion of Conservative backbenchers have managed to block similar bans, despite approval for such laws from Parliament and overwhelming public approval. However, it is widely believed that this legislation will not be opposed this time around.

Animal welfare campaigners will be watching closely to ensure that the legislation gets the quick approval it needs to become law and to protect wild animals from this needless, selfish and antiquated treatment.

Photo credit: Getty Images.

99 comments

joan s
joan silaco2 months ago

tufs

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heather g
heather g2 months ago

Finally, we are showing weak signs of the advancement of our civilization

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Lydia M
Lydia M2 months ago

MICHAEL GOVE YOU HAVE SURPRISED ME.. IN A GOOD WAY :)
ALL TRAVELLING CIRCUSES IN UK & ACROSS THE PLANET SHOULD BE BANNED..!!!
LET'S HEAR MORE ANNOUNCEMENTS SIMILAR TO THIS.
LET'S HOPE YOUR DECISION IS INFECTIOUS AND RADIATES OUT TO OTHERS, SENDING THE RIGHT MESSAGE...
ANIMALS SHOULD NOT BE EXPLOITED & ABUSED AS ENTERTAINMENT FOR MAN TO MAKE MONEY FROM.
OUR MAKER PUT THESE ANIMALS ON EARTH TO CO-EXIST ALONGSIDE US HUMANS, WE SHOULD LOOK AFTER THEM, NOT SEE THEM AS A MONEY MAKING OBJECT..
IT IS SHAMEFUL TO TREAT THESE MAGNIFICENT ANIMALS LIKE THIS.. Grrrrrrrr !!!

MICHAEL GOVE, PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOUR WORDS & ACTIONS ARE IMPLEMENTED AND PUNISH TO THE MAX, THOSE WHO MAY NOT WISH TO COMPLY WITH THIS 2019 LAW.. THANKS

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Hannah A
Hannah A2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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S M
S M2 months ago

At last! Thank you.

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June M
June M2 months ago

Thanks Steve for sharing

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Marija M
Marija M2 months ago

Very good news, tks.

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Ben O
Ben O2 months ago

Right on! Why don't we have a worldwide ban...?

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Toni W
Toni W2 months ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W2 months ago

TYFS

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