The UK government has announced legislation to ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.
The Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, which will become law in January 2020, bans circus operators from using wild animals like zebras, elephants and lions as part of a traveling circus.
The bill was introduced by Environment Secretary Michael Gove on Wednesday.
“Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals in the 21st century and I am pleased that this legislation will put an end to this practice for good,” said Gove.
The announcement comes after a February 2018 commitment by the government to put a ban in place by January 2020.
“I am pleased that today’s legislation will deliver on the ban that many welfare charities and parliamentarians have been calling for,” said Animal Welfare Minister David Rutley.
“The general public can still enjoy a trip to the circus, but it is good to know that wild animals will no longer be a part of that experience.”
Currently, only two circuses Circuses in England possess wild animal licenses – Mondao and Peter Jolly’s.
The bill only applies to wild animals, so domestic animals like dogs and donkeys may still be allowed to perform in the shows.
Animal welfare organizations have welcomed the bill, praising the government for taking action, which many of these groups have called on for decades.
“We really welcome the Government introducing a Bill to ban the outdated practice of using wild animals in circuses, RSPCA Head of Public Affairs David Bowles.
“We’ve campaigned against having wild animals in circuses for many years. They have complex needs that cannot be properly met in a circus environment.”
“It’s high time keeping wild animals in circuses is consigned to the history books and we look forward to the day that it is banned for good in England.”
Research shows that captive wild animals often suffer emotional and physical health problems due to a lack of adequate exercise that they would normally get in the wild, as well as a number of other issues, including abuse by trainers.
This move comes as a number of countries and localities are outlawing the use of animals in circuses.
Madrid is one of the places that recently banned the use of wild animals in circuses, due to concern for the animals’ psychological welfare.
In California, legislation has also been introduced to ban wild animals from being forced to perform in circuses.
Image credit: Flickr/ DirkJan Ranzijn