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Scotland becomes first to ban circus animals

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Landmark legislation to ban animals in circuses

Scotland will become the first UK nation to enact legislation banning the use of wild animals in circuses on Monday (28 May).

Coinciding with the landmark legislation Animal Defenders International (ADI) has renewed its call to other UK nations to follow their lead and stop circus suffering in Great Britain.

The Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Act 2018 comes into force five months after the government bill was unanimously passed by MSPs.

Its introduction followed a public consultation conducted by the Scottish Government which revealed 98% of respondents backed a ban.

The findings mirrored those of a similar consultation undertaken by the UK government, and public opinion polls in Scotland and the UK over many years.

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. The new legislation will prevent them from touring in future. These include Thomas Chipperfield and his lions and tigers, who overwintered in Fraserburgh in 2014 causing a public outcry.

A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses in England has been promised by successive UK governments for more than a decade. Draft legislation published in 2013 set out a 2015 ban but simply gathered dust.

In February, the government indicated a ban would be in place by January 2020, which coincides with when temporary regulations governing circuses with wild animals expire.

In Wales, a statement on the issue is expected before the summer break, the Welsh Government under increasing pressure to act after a ban was overwhelmingly backed in the Assembly during a debate in March.