MORE than 7,500 people have signed a petition to urge the Welsh Government to introduce a long-awaited ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.
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.
Today [20 October] the National Assembly for Wales’ Petitions Committee will discuss the petition which was recently handed to committee chair, William Powell AM, by RSPCA Cymru’s political campaigns manager Martin Fidler Jones and RSPCA Cymru board chair and RSPCA council member Paul Baxter.
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.
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.
Mr Fidler Jones said: “Over the past few months – since we launched this campaign in May – we have received an overwhelming amount of support from members of the public.
“Many have been surprised to learn that wild animals were still being used in circuses in modern Wales.
“We’ve been campaigning for a complete end to the use of wild animals in circuses for over a decade – and we just now hope that the Welsh Government acknowledges the mandate given to it by the public – by legislating themselves on this issue.
“The Welsh public have been waiting long enough. The mandate from our petition is unequivocal and polling* suggests the public are overwhelmingly in support of a ban – it is now time for the Welsh Government to bring forward their own proposals so the use of this outdated practice in circuses touring Wales is finally brought to an end.”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.
If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message). We are a charity and rely on public donations to exist.
*A poll commissioned by RSPCA Cymru found that 74 percent of the public support a ban on wild animals performing in circuses in Wales after hearing that other European countries have banned animal performances in circuses. [All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1036 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 22nd August 2015. 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 circus animals being transported have reported high levels of behaviour 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 is stated 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.