Animal Defenders International, Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society, and OneKind, welcome the publication of the Scottish Government Bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland.
We urge Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to support the Bill when it comes before them. A ban on wild animal circuses featured in the manifestos of the SNP, Scottish Labour and Scottish Green parties for the 2016 election, and the issue is widely regarded as unfinished business.
The Bill covers all non-domesticated animals travelling and performing in circuses, and any form of display or exhibition in static premises, such as winter quarters.
A Scottish Government consultation in 2014 produced an overwhelming response in favour of banning wild animal circuses in Scotland. Out of 2,043 responses, 98% thought the use of wild animals for performance in travelling circuses should be banned; and 96.4% thought the use of wild animals for exhibition (without performing) in travelling circuses should be banned. Both aspects are covered in the Bill.
The most recent Scottish poll, carried out for the More for Scotland’s Animals coalition in March 2016, found that 75% of those polled supported an end to the use of wild animals in circuses, rising to 78% in the 18-24 age group.
The ban will be made on ethical grounds, reflecting respect for animals and their natural behaviours. The same approach was taken when the Scottish Parliament banned fur farming in 2002.
The Scottish Government seeks to achieve early passage of the Bill in order to establish that wild animal circuses are not welcome or permitted in Scotland. However, until the legislation is in place, there is a risk travelling circuses could bring wild animals to Scotland.
The call to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland gained overwhelming public support following an outcry as Thomas Chipperfield brought two lions and three tigers to overwinter at a farm near Fraserburgh in 2014. See ADI’s investigation here.
Once passed, the legislation will be the first outright ban on wild animal circuses anywhere in the UK, joining 18 European countries, and 35 around the world, with restrictions in place – and more in the pipeline.