Wales must not “fall behind” on wild animal welfare, as the Republic of Ireland becomes the latest country to outlaw the use of wild animals in circuses.

RSPCA Cymru has urged the Welsh Government to deliver an immediate end to the practice, stating there is “no excuse” for wild animals to still be touring the country in a hugely inappropriate circus environment.

Calls follow the Republic of Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., signing regulations which introduced an outright ban on wild animals being used in circuses within the country. The measures come into effect on January 1st 2018.

The transient nature of circuses – alongside cramped accommodation and forced training for animals – highlights how inappropriate these settings are for wild animals. The RSPCA believes the welfare of wild animals based in such settings is likely to be heavily compromised.

Action in the Republic of Ireland means the country has become the 25th in the world to ban all wild animals in circuses. A further 13 countries have taken more limited action – including banning some species, or all wild-caught animals.

The Welsh Government has been consulting on their future plans, both for the use of wild animals in circuses in Wales, and – additionally – concerning the licensing of travelling animal shows, or so-called ‘Mobile Animal Exhibits’ (MAEs).

MAEs, like falconry displays and mobile petting zoos, could be subject to new regulation, under Welsh Government plans. This could mean they would require a license, and need to comply with key welfare standards – something warmly welcomed by RSPCA Cymru.

However – alongside any such licensing system to protect animals based in MAEs – RSPCA Cymru continues to urge the Welsh Government to end the spectre of wild animals touring in circuses on Welsh soil.

Dr Ros Clubb, senior scientific manager, specialising in captive wild animals, said: “Wild animals do not belong in the circus – and it’s great to see the Republic of Ireland becoming the latest country to ban this highly inappropriate practice.

“The travelling nature of circuses and the cramped accommodation mean circus life can severely compromise the welfare of wild animals – and polling* shows that the public want to see this out-dated activity consigned to the history books once and for all.

“In 2017, there’s simply no excuse for wild animals touring in a circus environment. The time has certainly come for the Welsh Government to end this practice. It’s vital we see action in Wales, and that the country does not fall behind on wild animal welfare.

“We’ve discussed some important and welcome proposals with the Welsh Government recently, concerning animal exhibits such as falconry displays, and petting zoos. We now hope a robust licensing system for such shows will be introduced which protects the animals involved; and this must come alongside a much-needed, immediate and outright end to wild animals in circuses in Wales.”

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