Four charities back Scottish Government's move to end the use of animals in circuses
Animal protection charities have welcomed publication of a bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland.
OneKind, Animal Defenders International (ADI), Born Free Foundation and Captive Animals’ Protection Society have all backed the Scottish Government’s moves to end the practice.
They have consistently highlighted welfare issues and ethical concerns associated with what they called an “outmoded form of entertainment”.
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 produced an overwhelming response in favour of banning animal circuses.
Out of 2,043 responses, 98% thought the use of wild animals for performance in travelling circuses should be banned and 96.4% thought the use of wild animals for exhibition without performing should be banned. Both aspects are covered in the bill.
The most recent Scottish poll, carried out for the More for Scotland’s Animals coalition in March 2016, 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.
Libby Anderson, policy advisor for OneKind, said: “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, said: “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 The evidence shows circuses cannot meet the animals’ needs – England and Wales must now step up and prohibit these outdated acts.”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. We continue to call upon English, Welsh and Northern Irish officials to follow the example set by Holyrood and bring an end to this cruel practice once and for all.”
Nicola O’Brien, campaigns director with the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, added: "With 98% of consultation respondents stating wild animals in circuses should be banned, we applaud the Scottish Government for listening to the public by making this historic decision.
“Scotland has not only taken action to protect animals within its borders but also paved the way for the rest of the UK to follow. A joined-up approach across the union is needed to ensure wild animals are truly free from exploitation in circuses."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) director Elisa Allen said: "This is a good day for animals and for democracy – and Peta salutes the Scottish Government for listening to the public and introducing a bill to ban travelling circuses from using wild animals. In 2017, everyone knows that captivity is a living hell for animals like tigers and lions and that a circus environment in particular can't possibly meet their complex needs.
"These animals are understandably frustrated, stressed, and depressed from a lifetime of being denied the opportunity to act on their most basic instincts – kept caged in trailers travelling around the country or being forced to perform painful tricks under the big top out of some Victorian-era sense of amusement.
"Let's hope the progress in Holyrood serves to light a fire under the government in Westminster, which, despite years of promising to bring in a ban, continues to sit back and do nothing as England falls further and further behind the growing list of countries putting a stop to these cruel institutions."
Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:“These measures have been carefully designed to improve standards of animal welfare in Scotland.
“Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and we take this issue very seriously. The bill we have introduced bans the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, which is widely considered to be morally unacceptable in the present day.
“We have consulted extensively on a number of other issues and will now bring forward improved legislation and measures which will improve animal welfare.”
The Scottish Government seeks to achieve early passage of the bill in order to establish that wild animal circuses are not welcome or permitted in Scotland.
However, until the legislation is in place there is a risk travelling circuses could bring wild animals to Scotland.