1 March 2012
Press reports circulating today indicate that the Government are preparing to announce a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. The Born Free Foundation, together with a number of other animal protection organisations including the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, the RSPCA, the British Veterinary Association and ADI have long campaigned for such a ban which has overwhelming public and Parliamentary backing.
However, Will Travers, CEO of Born Free, commented: “We are being very cautious. Until we see the details of the proposed ban and the timetable for its implementation we are only raising half a glass. The Government still seem determined to press ahead with a licensing system, claiming that this will be a quick, temporary measure to safeguard the welfare of wild animals in circuses. From what I have seen they suggest that a full ban will not come into force for two or more years due to Parliamentary time constraints. That means wild animals in travelling circuses could be on the road until 2014 or later. If that’s the case then we will be seeking the widest possible support for an accelerated process to make sure the ban is introduced at the earliest opportunity to end, once and for all, this unacceptable form of animal exploitation.”
The issue of banning the use of certain species of wild animals in travelling circuses was first promulgated by the then Minister Ben Bradshaw MP in 2006. The fact that it may happen in 2014 or 2015 is not something of which our elected representatives should be proud.
Leading Parliamentary campaigner Mark Pritchard MP is also reported to be sceptical: "Any licensing scheme should also guarantee that no new wild animals are imported into UK circuses. Quite frankly I don't believe the Government when they say they will move towards a ban. I don't trust Number 10 on the issue. I will believe it when I see it. But I am not holding my breath. Time will tell if I am right."
Further details are anticipated later today and Born Free will be issuing further statements in due course.