12 APR 2016

Wild Animals in Circuses

The Government remains fully committed to introducing a ban on wild animals in circuses in this Parliament, in accordance with the pledge in the manifesto at the General Election.

Currently the ban stands to impact on two travelling circuses in England that now operate with only a small number of wild animals. Conditions of the remaining wild animals at both circuses are closely monitored under Defra's interim Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012. This is done through regular announced and unannounced welfare inspections.

The draft Bill states that an offence would be committed under the law if an animal 'performs or is exhibited' as part of a travelling circus- a term whose definition is well understood. There is no exemption for businesses claiming that the exhibition is 'for educational purposes' or similar. In any case of doubt, the Bill also allows for the appointment of inspectors to make the final decision.

The Bill was expected to have its second reading debate last month, however there was not enough parliamentary time. I will monitor this issue and look out for when a future date is set.

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