Govt proposes ban on wild animals in circuses

By Oliver Hotham

The government is moving to ban to use of wild animals like tigers, monkeys and zebras in circus shows.

MPs approved a ban in a non-binding vote on the matter last year. The government has said it will act on the decision.

In the meantime, much stricter licensing laws are to be put in place.

Animal welfare minister Lord Taylor described the practice of wild animals is circus shows as "outdated" and said the ban would be put in place as soon as possible.

"There is no place in today's society for wild animals being used for our entertainment in travelling circuses. Wild animals deserve our respect," he said.

"We have said many times we wanted to ban this outdated practice, but before we could do that there were serious legal issues we had to consider.

"We are developing proposals to introduce a bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.

"In the meantime we are introducing a Circus Licensing Scheme to ensure decent conditions for wild animals in travelling circuses."

Labour criticised the government's failure to act on last year's decision by MPs, which was backed by 95% of the public, saying that it showed animal welfare was not on its list of top priorities.

The new licensing laws will mean that the animal's owner must meet certain welfare standards, and be able to provide proper accommodation and veterinary treatment.

Between 35 and 50 wild animals are performing in zoos in the UK, it is believed.