Scotland To Become First UK Country To Ban Wild Animals In Traveling Circuses


In a welcomed move to improve animal welfare, this week, the Scottish Government announced the introduction of a bill to ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.

The Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced on Wednesday, prohibits the use of any wild animal in a travelling circus in Scotland on ethical grounds reflecting respect for animals and their natural behaviors.

Currently under consideration by the Scottish Parliament, when passed, the legislation will mark the first ban on wild animal circuses anywhere in the UK and one of 36 countries around the world with similar restrictions in place.

“The bill we have introduced today bans the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, which is widely considered to be morally unacceptable in the present day,” Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform said on the government’s website.

“These measures have been carefully designed to improve standards of animal welfare in Scotland,” continued Cunnigham noting that Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and one that takes these issues very seriously.

Among the animal welfare organizations applauding Scotland for taking this game changing step in the right direction are OneKind, Animal Defenders International, Born Free Foundation, and Captive Animals’ Protection Society; all of which have been instrumental in raising awareness about the many welfare issues and concerns associated with using wild animals for entertainment purposes.

Chris Draper, Associate Director for Animal Welfare and Care at Born Free Foundation praised the Scottish government on its move to “outlaw the archaic use of wild animals in travelling circuses,” according to an article in the Sunday Post, while Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, also used the opportunity to issue a call to action for England and Wales to “step up and prohibit these outdated acts.”

In addition to introducing The Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill, Cunningham also outlined additional animal welfare measures being considered including an attempt to restrict the use of electronic training collars and a commitment to update regulations to curb the irresponsible breeding and sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits.

While Gudrun Ravetz, the president of the British Veterinary Association, appreciated the focus on pet licensing and breeding regulations, she also expressed on its website her disappointment with what she believed to be insensitive and still lacking legislation regarding training aids for dogs, surmising that the use of training collars will still be permitted under expert guidance.

“We know using fear as a training tool is not only less effective than positive reinforcement but can take its toll on a dog’s overall welfare,” she argued as she claimed that the measures seemed to give with one hand while taking away with the other. “Without an outright ban, we have grave concerns over how enforceability will work.”

As always with animal welfare issues, more should and needs to be done.

Yet, WAN is thrilled to continually shine a light on positive advancements such as the banning of using wild animals for entertainment.

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