RSPCA renews calls for ban on wild animals in circuses

The RSPCA is calling on the Governments in England and Wales to follow in the footsteps of Scottish Parliament and finally bring in a ban on wild animals in circuses.

In 2012, Westminster announced it would introduce a long overdue ban on wild animals in circuses in England. Four years on that pledge is yet to be honoured.

Now Scotland is banning the practice the RSPCA is pushing for the Governments in England and Wales to follow suit. 

Head of public affairs at the RSPCA David Bowles said: “We have been calling for a ban on wild animals in circuses in England and Wales for so many years. Now is the time the two Governments needs to step up and follow Scotland’s lead and consign this outdated practise to the history books.

“We believe that the UK Government has gone back on its word and has turned its back on wild animals in the circus. It seems it no longer intends to deliver on their manifesto promise of a ban – which is the only way to truly safeguard the welfare of wild animals.

“Without this ban there is nothing to prevent circuses acquiring more wild animals and more species. Even after the licensing scheme came in, four tigers and two lions were imported into the country for performance. But the standards are poor and do not even come close to the standards which modern zoos must adhere to, despite the welfare needs of those animals being the same.

“Ninety-four per cent of the people who responded to a Defra consultation on this subject wanted a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.* It is not a quaint tradition of old, circuses are no place for wild animals and the UK Government needs to acknowledge this.”

Senior scientific officer at the RSPCA Dr Ros Clubb said: “The complex needs of wild animals can never be adequately met in a circus environment and regular transport, cramped and bare temporary housing, forced training and performance are all unavoidable realities for the animals.

“The impact of circuses on wild animal welfare is serious and potentially debilitating for each and every wild animal involved. These animals are forced to endure the constant travel, cramped temporary cages, and noisy conditions of a circus.

“A ban would finally put an end to dragging wild animals around the country with circuses in the name of entertainment.”

Notes to editors –


* Of more than 10,500 analysed responses to Defra’s 2010 consultation, 94% favoured a ban, including representatives of zoo and veterinary professions

European neighbours Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia as well as several countries further afield (Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Israel, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore) have all successfully banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Slovakia, India, Czech Republic, Sweden, Hungary, Finland, Ecuador and Denmark also have imposed bans on key species and Portugal has banned circuses breeding their existing wild animals or acquiring any new ones. Estonia and Poland have banned the use of all wild-caught animals.

This is a devolved issue and the Welsh Government is responsible for this matter in Wales.

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