Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Scotland says “No” to wild animal circuses

26 June 2015

Categories: Homepage News, Zoo Check Campaign News, Circus Campaign News

Today, it has been revealed that the Scottish public has said a resounding “No” to the archaic use of wild animals in circuses.  

Scottish Government papers released today have confirmed that an overwhelming 98% of respondents to a public consultation on the issue supported a complete ban on the use of animals such as lions, tigers and elephants in travelling circuses. The consultation results have been welcomed by the Born Free Foundation and Scottish colleagues from OneKind with a spokesperson for the two organisations saying that “it is now time for the Scottish Government to act in the interests of both animals and people and ban the practice once and for all”.

A total of 2,003 respondents (98%) to the consultation indicated that they thought the use of wild animals for performance in travelling circuses should be banned in Scotland; and 1,969 respondents (96.4%) indicated that they thought the use of wild animals for exhibition (without performing) in travelling circuses should be banned in Scotland.

In 2012, the Westminster Government released a draft bill to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in England on ethical grounds and invited Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to join together in creating UK-wide legislation. Since that time, no progress has been made on the implementation of the ban in England, to the disappointment of advocates working on the issue. The inaction in Westminster, said the two charities, represents an opportunity for Scotland to lead the way on this important issue by acting independently.

Whilst there have been no wild animal circuses based in Scotland in living memory, circuses with wild animals have continued to tour to Scotland in recent years. Then, in late 2014, a circus trainer with a big cat act moved his lions and tigers from England to a farm near Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. The move triggered an outcry from members of the public, animal welfare experts and Parliamentarians alike and led to calls for the Scottish Government to implement a ban as soon as possible.

Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart welcomed the results of the consultation:

“The public have overwhelmingly shown that they are against the archaic practice of having wild animals perform in circuses and I hope that the Scottish Government takes cognisance of their views and will legislate for a ban as soon as possible.

“We cannot afford for the rest of the UK to catch-up and if our Scottish Government does not introduce legislation in the near future then I will certainly consider introducing a Members’ Bill to ban this barbaric practice once and for all.”

Libby Anderson, OneKind Policy Director, added:

“Although Scotland has no resident circuses using wild animals, we have always warned that not banning these entertainments would simply leave the door open for them to set up here at any time.  That is what happened with the big cats overwintering in Aberdeenshire and their owner attempting to use them in public shows.  A simple ban would reflect modern attitudes to animals and the overwhelming will of the Scottish public.”

Will Travers OBE, President of the Born Free Foundation said:

“Today’s message from the Scottish public could not be any clearer: people no longer want to see wild animals in circuses in this country and the Scottish Government now has a real opportunity to demonstrate that it is a progressive force for animal welfare reform. Scotland is in a great position to lead the way and implement the first wild animal circus ban in the British Isles and I hope this will stimulate the Westminster Parliament to bring forward final measures to introduce the long-awaited ban in England at the earliest opportunity”. 

Meanwhile, Aberdeenshire-based Modo, a youth circus that celebrates human achievement and creativity, has expressed concern about the negative perceptions of circuses fostered by the continued use of wild animals.  Director Martin Danziger said:

“Important as it is to stop wild animal use for moral reasons, its very existence also makes our work harder - we have to work harder to communicate the difference between two things that call themselves circuses, and to work to counter negative perceptions.”

The Born Free Foundation and OneKind are standing by to support the Scottish Government in delivering a positive solution to this important, long-standing animal welfare issue.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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