The Welsh Government is under increasing pressure to ban wild animal circus acts in Wales.
The popular measure was overwhelmingly backed during a debate in the Senedd yesterday afternoon, Assembly Members joining the call from Animal Defenders International (ADI) for urgent action to bring in the ban without delay.
The debate was proposed by the Petitions Committee in January following the presentation of a petition signed by more than 6,000 people wanting a ban and supported by ADI.
Following the Welsh Government public consultation on mobile animal exhibits, which showed “strong support for a ban” on wild animals in circuses, Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, stated recently, and confirmed during the debate, that she was “exploring opportunities to bring forward legislation to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in Wales.”
A ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses has already been passed in Scotland and Ireland, while in England the UK Government recently indicated legislation to prohibit such acts will come into effect by January 2020.
More than 40 countries around the world have introduced prohibitions on animals in circuses to date and opinion polls consistently show that the public remains overwhelmingly opposed to wild animal acts, with a high proportion against all animal acts.
Despite there currently being no wild animal circuses in Wales, circuses with such acts visit from England and three have toured Wales in recent years, Circus Mondao, Peter Jolly’s Circus and An Evening with Lions and Tigers. With no bar to wild animal circuses in place, the door is open to others joining them.
ADI’s investigations have recorded life for the Chipperfield big cats in Staffordshire where for at least four years, they have lived mainly confined in cages on the back of a truck with restricted access to an exercise area. Thomas Chipperfield has announced plans to tour, which could bring this unwanted act back to Wales.
ADI has also exposed the treatment of animals at Peter Jolly’s Circus winter quarters, including appalling overcrowding, animals fighting, a worker tormenting and spitting in the face of a camel, ponies tangled in short tethers, animals crammed in a run-down building for 14 hours a day. Some were shut in the dilapidated building for days on end; others tethered for up to 40 hours; all in breach of UK regulations.