MSPs to consider banning wild animals from travelling circuses

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 18 May 2017 in News

Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee will scrutinise the Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill

Horses – image credit: Bob Jagendorf

MSPs will consider plans to ban wild animals from being used in travelling circuses in Scotland, after a public consultation showed widespread opposition to the practice.

The Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee has announced that over the coming weeks it will scrutinise the Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill, which would make it an offence for a circus operator – or person with overall responsibility for a circus – to use wild animals as part of a travelling circus.

The Bill also includes the power to enter premises and vehicles in order to search for and examine animals.


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Committee convener Graeme Dey MSP said: “We know that people feel very strongly about protecting wild animals in travelling circuses.

“In Scotland, the use of animals in circuses as a form of entertainment is somewhat of a rarity. In fact, such a travelling circus hasn’t visited Scotland for many years.

“However, if this Bill is passed, it will make it an offence for circus operators to use wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland.

“What the Committee wants to know is whether the Scottish public think this is the best way to protect wild animals.”

OneKind, Animal Defenders International, Born Free Foundation and Captive Animals’ Protection Society welcomed the publication of the bill.

In a 2014 consultation, 98 per cent of respondents said the use of wild animals for performance in travelling circuses should be banned and 96.4 per cent thought the use of wild animals for exhibition (without performing) in travelling circuses should be banned.

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 consultation will run until 9 June 2017.

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