The use of wild animals in travelling circuses is now BANNED in Wales as of today (1 December) – following a successful campaign by the RSPCA.
Under the Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Act, it is now an offence for wild animals to be performed or exhibited in a travelling circus in Wales.
The RSPCA has campaigned for years for this ban to come into force in Wales – with the relevant powers to do this devolved some 14 years ago.
Wales has now joined some 45 other countries, nations and states across the world who have taken action on the use of wild animals in the circus environment.
The animal welfare charity believes travelling circus life is totally unsuitable for wild animals – with cramped accommodation, unnatural social groups and forced training often a “grim reality” for the animals involved, and placing their welfare at significant risk.
Public support for a ban in Wales has been consistently strong – with 74 per cent of people backing a ban on wild animals performing in circuses and approximately 9,000 penning an RSPCA Cymru petition calling for action.
David Bowles, RSPCA head of public affairs, said: “Clearly, this is an historic day for animal welfare in Wales – and concludes a campaign we have worked on for many, many years.
“We’ve had overwhelming public support for this campaign – and the voice of those supporters was so important in helping secure this legislation; which means the spectre of wild animals being performed or exhibited in travelling circuses in Wales is finally – once and for all – consigned to the history books. It’s a great advert for what we can achieve together for animal welfare.
“There was strong cross-party support for this campaign in the Senedd – and we were pleased to work closely with the Welsh Government and Members of the Senedd too to give wild animals this vital extra protection in law.
“A ban sends an important statement about how Welsh society regards animals – and that this country will not tolerate such out-dated, unnecessary practices. Moving forward, we will continue to raise concerns on the inappropriate use of animals – such as supporting more than 3,000 members of the public that have already complained about the use of animals to Ofcom about the present ‘I’m a Celebrity’ series being filmed in Wales.”
Ros Clubb, RSPCA senior scientific manager, specialising in captive wild animals added: “The RSPCA has long been clear that there is no excuse for subjecting wild animals to the circus environment.
“We know the impact these circuses have long had on wild animal welfare. Forced training, unsuitable accommodation, difficult journeys and unnatural social groupings are all a grim reality for these animals – but thankfully, this law will make all the difference in Wales.”
A video was launched last year, highlighting the longevity of the RSPCA’s campaign, and the importance of the public’s support. The RSPCA’s campaign has incorporated numerous consultation responses, scientific papers, briefings, polling, public-facing events, street stalls, campaign actions and more.