Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild


Country update

In 2012, the Westminster Government made a commitment to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses before the end of 2015. The end of 2015 came and went, the end of 2016 came and went and the end of 2017 is looming at the time of writing (December 2017). Despite this, no action has been taken.

Perhaps tellingly, and despite repeated promises over a period of five years, in the Conservative Party’s most recent manifesto, the promise to ban circuses was notably absent. Following the 2017 snap General Election, it is no longer clear whether or not the Government intends to honour its promise, however a comment made by Environment Minister, Michael Gove, during a speech on 21st July, 2017, which was subsequently published on the Government’s website, gave us some hope that the issue remains on the Government’s agenda.

Mr Gove stated that he intended to “move on animal circuses”. The Born Free team has contacted Mr Gove to request clarification on his position on the matter and to request that he ensure that a timetable for implementation of the ban is put in place urgently.

What you can do

The Born Free Foundation is now calling upon all supporters to take a few moments to write to Michael Gove MP to reiterate the need for clarity of the current Government’s position on wild animals in circuses and to encourage him to introduce the ban immediately:

You might like to highlight the following points in your letter or email but do feel free to add your own thoughts too:

  • Two years have passed since the original deadline of 2015
  • The Government made a commitment in March 2012 to bring in a ban on wild animals in travelling circuses in England and repeatedly confirmed its commitment since then. In the newest Conservative manifesto, the promise of a ban had been omitted. We, the public, will continue to hold the government to its promise until the ban is in place.
  • Draft legislation to ban has already been introduced in Parliament. This legislation is not considered to be controversial, has the overwhelming support of Parliamentarians, and could progress quickly through Parliament.
  • There is strong public support for a ban which would be a quick and easy "win" for this Government.
  • Scotland has led the way in the UK, having passed a Bill in December 2017, prohibiting the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. The consultation process in Westminster began four years prior to Scotland’s consideration and yet there is still no ban in place in England.
  • Leading animal protection organisations including the Born Free Foundation, RSPCA, the Captive Animals' Protection Society, and the British Veterinary Association are all agreed that a ban is long overdue.

Template letter:

Dear Mr Gove,

The UK Government promised, in 2012, to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses by the end 2015. Two years have now passed since that deadline and animals remain in the big top in England.

As you will be aware, the legislation for a ban has been in draft form for over four years and has the support of all major animal welfare organisations, the British Veterinary Association, many parliamentarians and 95% of the general public.

I implore you to use your current position as DEFRA Minister to ensure that the long-overdue ban is introduced without any further delay, in the interests of the animals and in recognition of the will of the British public.

With best regards,

Yours Sincerely,


You can send your email to: 

Michael Gove MP, DEFRA Minister


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

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