RSPCA Cymru has decreed today (Wednesday 14 February) as a “momentous day for animals” as the Welsh Government confirms its plan to bring forward legislation to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

The animal welfare charity has led the campaign on this issue for some two decades – with over 9,000 signing an RSPCA petition urging action.

Polling, too, has consistently demonstrated a clear will for action – with 74% of people within Wales supporting a ban on wild animals performing in circuses*.

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

An announcement had previously been made regarding the introduction of a licensing scheme for mobile animal exhibits (MAEs) in Wales, including circuses – but the Welsh Government has now confirmed it is “exploring opportunities to bring forward legislation to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in Wales”.

Claire Lawson, RSPCA Cymru Assistant Director of External Relations, said: “This is a momentous day for animals – with the sight of wild animals touring in circuses in Wales set to be consigned to the history books once and for all.

“The RSPCA has fought for years to see this ban become a reality – and we are absolutely delighted that the Welsh Government has confirmed its intention to bring forward legislation to end this outdated and cruel practice on this country’s soil.

“Wild animals have had their welfare compromised in the circus environment for far too long – and the RSPCA has taken this message to all corners of Wales, via a petition, street stalls and hundreds of campaigner e-mails sent directly to the Cabinet Secretary, as part of a wide-ranging public campaign.

“This ban makes a huge statement about how highly animal welfare is regarded in Wales, and how this country wants to treat our fellow living creatures. RSPCA Cymru will now work closely with the Welsh Government and all stakeholders to ensure this ban becomes a reality as soon as possible.”

The Welsh Government’s announcement will ensure Wales becomes the latest country to introduce an outright ban on the practice of wild animals in circuses. Scotland passed a ban on the issue in December 2017, measures have been promised in England when UK parliamentary time allows, and a ban came into effect in the Republic of Ireland on January 1st 2018.

Ms Lawson added: “This is a day of huge significance for animals in Wales.

“RSPCA Cymru’s supporters have been consistently clear; that wild animals in circuses must be banned, and that an outright ban on this activity must complement action on other travelling shows.

“It’s positive that the Welsh Government will be proceeding with a licensing scheme for other MAEs in Wales, as many animals in such settings – like falconry displays, mobile petting zoos and festive reindeer events – face unique and challenging lives, and deserve more protection.

“Wild animals do not belong in the circus. Put simply, it is a life not worth living – with regular travelling, unsuitable accommodation and forced training the grim realities of this cruel practice. Thankfully – after tireless campaigning from the RSPCA and others – animals will no longer face this horrendous life.”

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