RSPCA Newport Animal Centre Christmas FeteAnimal welfarists have one week to join the RSPCA in telling the Welsh Government that wild animals in travelling circuses must be consigned to the history books.

RSPCA Cymru has been campaigning for decades to see a ban implemented in Wales – and the Welsh Government is now consulting on their draft law, that would outlaw the practice.

Supporters can take action via the RSPCA website, and thereby tell the Welsh Government that they back making the “outdated and sad practice” illegal in Wales.

Welsh Government moves are the culmination of years of campaigning – including an RSPCA Cymru petition which gathered more than 9,000 signatures; and charity polling which showed that 74 per cent of people within Wales back a ban on wild animals performing in circuses.

Street stalls have also been held across Wales, while hundreds of supporter emails have been sent directly to the responsible Cabinet Secretary, as part of a wide-ranging public campaign. This even inspired local campaigners to adopt the issue and urge decision-makers to take action.

The transient nature of circuses – alongside cramped accommodation and forced training for animals – highlights how inappropriate these settings are for wild animals.

RSPCA Cymru has also urged the public to tell the Welsh Government that banning the practice will have a positive effect on the attitudes of children towards animals.

That call comes following the launch of Generation Kind, an ambitious new programme from the RSPCA, teaching children empathy and respect for animals, with the aim of preventing cruelty and neglect in the future.

Paul Smith, RSPCA Cymru public affairs manager, said: “This is a very important few days for animal welfare in Wales.

“We urge people across Wales to make their voice heard, and get this long-standing campaign over the line, for the benefit of any wild animal threatened with the spectre of life in a travelling circus.

“Positively, Wales is edging ever closer to an historic, outright ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. But we need the Welsh Government to hear that the public support this legislation, and our supporters to help give these animals a voice by taking our campaign action.

“The consultation closes on 28 November – and it is so important people make these final hours and days count for wild animals.

“Keeping wild animals in travelling circuses is an outdated and sad practice – and we know the firm majority of people in Wales back us, and don’t want to see this activity taking place on Wales’ soil any longer.

“A circus’ travelling nature, cramped accommodation and forced training can severely compromise animal welfare, and clearly we need to seize the opportunity this consultation provides to back this law, and stop wild animals being hauled around the country to perform in travelling circuses in Wales.”

The use of wild animals in circuses has been banned in Scotland since 28 May this year, while measures have been promised in England when UK parliamentary time allows. The Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, saw a ban come into effect on New Year’s Day 2018.