RSPCA Cymru is urging members of the public to vote with their feet and give a circus that has come to town in Aberystwyth a miss this weekend.

The animal welfare charity has long pushed for a complete ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. The power to introduce a ban lies with the National Assembly for Wales.

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.

Circus stickerRSPCA Cymru’s political campaigns manager Martin Fidler Jones said: “The use of wild animals is an outdated practice which has no place in modern Wales.

“Circuses will only continue to use wild animals in circuses if the public continue to pay to see them. We are urging members of the public to vote with their feet and give this circus that uses wild animals a miss this weekend.”

In 2013 the Welsh Government indicated they would allow the ban then being considered by the UK Government to extend to Wales. However the UK Government subsequently failed to pass such legislation before Parliament was dissolved in May before the recent election.

Urgent action is needed to keep the ban on the political agenda. To ensure this, RSPCA Cymru has recently launched a petition calling for the Welsh Government to introduce a long-awaiting ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. The petition will be submitted to the National Assembly for Wales’ Petitions Committee in October 2015.

Martin Fidler Jones added: “We’ve been campaigning for a complete end to the use of wild animals in circuses for over a decade.

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

“The Welsh Government acknowledges the strong support which exists for a ban, and had previously invited the UK Government to legislate on their behalf on the issue.

“But following delays, it is now time for the Welsh Government to bring forward their own proposals so the use of this outdated practice in circuses touring Wales is finally brought to an end.”

A number of local councils have already done their bit, passing resolutions and guidance that refuse circuses travelling with wild animals permission to use local authority land. Although this is a step in the right direction, circuses that use wild animals can still use private land, therefore RSPCA Cymru is campaigning for an overall ban in Wales.

Supporters can get involved today by visiting http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/bigstop/circusesinwalestakeaction

If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (text costs £3 + one standard network rate message). We are a charity and rely on public donations to exist.

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Notes to editors:

A YouGov Poll in 2014 found that 61% of Welsh adults supported a ban on wild/ non-domesticated animals performing in circuses in Wales
*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,001 Welsh adults (aged 18+). Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th – 8th September 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Welsh adults (aged 18+).

The wild animals are transported in beastwagons, which are restricted to the maximum size of a lorry permitted on roads. They are housed in small, barren temporary enclosures for 90-99 per cent per cent of the day which are, on average, about 1/4 of the size of those recommended in zoos. Some animals are simply tethered to a peg on the ground – unable to move a few metres or to socialise with others.

Loading and transport, which are well known stressful events even for experienced animals, occur on a weekly basis for the 5-10 months circuses travel around the country. Researchers granted access to circuses have reported high levels of behaviour in animals being transported indicative of welfare problems – such as tigers pacing back and forth and elephants weaving from side to side.

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.

The RSPCA is also campaigning for a ban of circuses with wild animals in England which is the responsibility of the UK Government.

The petition text states as follows:
We, the undersigned:
Believe the complex needs of wild animals can never be adequately met in a circus environment;
Note that wild animals continue to face the prospect of life in an unsuitable circus environment in Wales;
Urge the Welsh Government to ensure an outright ban on the use of wild animals in circuses is introduced in Wales as soon as possible.