Campaigners Welcome Scottish Bill To Ban Wild Animal Circuses

(Animal Defenders International Press Release) Animal protection organisations with a long history of campaigning against animal circuses have welcomed publication of the Scottish Government Bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland, along with proposals to review performing animal regulations.

Animal Defenders International, Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society and OneKind have all highlighted the inherent welfare issues and ethical concerns associated with this 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 wild animal circuses in Scotland. 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) in travelling circuses 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.

The ban will be made on ethical grounds reflecting respect for animals and their natural behaviours. The same approach was taken when the Scottish Parliament banned fur farming in 2002.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, stated: “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 The evidence shows circuses cannot meet the animals’ needs – England and Wales must now step up and prohibit these outdated acts.”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 commented: “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.”

Libby Anderson, policy advisor for OneKind, added: “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.”

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. Until the legislation is in place there is a risk travelling circuses could bring wild animals to Scotland.

The call to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland gained overwhelming public support following an outcry as Thomas Chipperfield brought two lions and three tigers to overwinter at a farm near Fraserburgh in 2014.

Animal Defenders International, Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society and OneKind are urging Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to support the Bill when it comes before them. A ban on wild animal circuses featured in the manifestos of the SNP, Scottish Labour and Scottish Green parties for the 2016 election and the issue is widely regarded as unfinished business.

Once passed, the legislation will be the first outright ban on wild animal circuses anywhere in the UK, joining 18 European countries, and 35 around the world, with restrictions in place – and more in the pipeline.

The animal protection groups have concerns about other forms of entertainment using animals, such as reindeer displays, bird of prey exhibitions in shopping centres, and mobile zoos and animal handling parties.

The organisations have welcomed a commitment from the Scottish Government today to address these activities and are calling for this review to progress in parallel with the circus bill.

For further information, photographs, or to request an interview, please contact:
Devon Prosser on 0207 630 3344/07785 552548

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