Legal move to ban wild animals in travelling circuses welcomed
PROMISED Government legislation to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses has been welcomed by local animal rights protestors.
With the Big Top Productions circus currently pitched on Laceby Road, Grimsby, protestor Sean Atkinson believes the legislation "should have been here sooner".
The government has promised the ban will come into force "at the earliest opportunity", and until then, a tougher licensing system will be implemented.
In a written parliamentary statement, Animal Welfare minister Lord Taylor, said: "We have said many times we wanted to ban this outdated practice, but before we could do that there were serious legal issues we had to consider.
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"We are developing proposals to introduce a bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.
"In the meantime we are introducing a Circus Licensing Scheme to ensure decent conditions for wild animals in travelling circuses."
The calls for a ban increased following revelations in the national press of the mistreatment of an elephant, Anne, at a different circus, last year.
A consultation on welfare licences has been launched and the regulations are expected to come into force by the summer.
Anyone responsible for a travelling circus that uses wild animals in a performance will need to hold a valid licence, meet welfare standards and have a retirement plan for each animal.
They will also need to provide proper accommodation, full veterinary care, a good diet and high welfare standards during training and performances.
A government-appointed inspector, paid for by the circuses, will ensure rules are met, officials said.
Between 35 and 50 wild animals are believed to be working in circuses.
Mr Atkinson added: "Large wild animals walk for hundreds of miles in their natural environment, and they can't do this being caged.
"Even with the circus owners' best will, the animals are not getting enough exercise nor the correct lifestyle.
"They are large majestic animals, and it is in their genetic coding to walk large distances."
He also claimed it was "outdated" to have wild animals in the circus ring.
Martin Lacey, owner of Big Top Productions, said: "The show puts animal welfare at the very top of its priorities.
"Animals come first at all times, and their needs are met well before those of any humans.
"Leading professionals such as veterinary surgeons and animal behaviourists, visit the show regularly and often unannounced.
"They have never yet found anything that was below par.
"The public come because they want to see animals up close, happy and in good health.
"If the public is not happy with what is seen they don't come back, it is as simple as that."
The Big Top Productions circus is on Laceby Road until Saturday, April 14.
Call 07947 441166 for show times and to book.