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A Bill banning the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Wales is expected to be laid before the National Assembly today (8 July).

First published:
8 July 2019
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

The Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill aims to address ethical concerns by banning the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Wales.

The Bill, which would see an end to the use of animals like camels, zebra and reindeer in travelling circuses, was overwhelmingly backed in a recent consultation with more than 6,500 responses.

Although there are now just two circuses travelling the UK with wild animals, they regularly visit Wales and each time they do there are renewed calls to ban the practice.

The new legislation will make it an offence for an operator of a travelling circus to use, or permit another person to use, a wild animal in a travelling circus.

Anyone convicted of breaking the law would face an unlimited fine in the courts.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said the Bill is backed by the public.

The declining number of wild animals kept by travelling circuses is a clear indication the public appetite for this type of entertainment is not what it once was.

Wild animals are sentient beings which should be treated with dignity and respect, not exploited for our entertainment in travelling circuses.

The use of wild animals in travelling circuses contributes little to further our understanding of wild animals or their conservation.

The introduction of this Bill sends a clear message this Government and the people of Wales believe this practice to be outdated and ethically unacceptable.

RSPCA Cymru assistant director for external relations, Claire Lawson, said:

We’re absolutely delighted the Welsh Government has brought this bill forward.

The keeping of wild animals in travelling circuses is an outdated practice that clearly has no place in modern Wales.

We're so grateful to the people across Wales who have backed this campaign. We've seen a real groundswell of opinion across Wales for a ban, and it's great the Welsh Government have taken that on board and acted for these animals.

Head of Animal Welfare & Captivity at Born Free Dr Chris Draper said:

The use of wild animals in travelling circuses is outdated and unpopular, and this legislation will bring Wales into line with a long and increasing list of countries which have banned this practice; it also means that Great Britain may soon be free of circuses with wild animals.

Born Free and its supporters have campaigned for a long time for this outcome and we look forward to the swift progress of the Bill through the Assembly.

The new legislation will bring Wales in line with similar legislation in Scotland, Republic of Ireland and, soon, England.

The Bill is expected to be introduced to the National Assembly today and the Minister will make a Legislative Statement about the Bill during Plenary in the Senedd tomorrow.