England to ban circuses from using wild animals

Zebras pictured in Kruger National Park in South Africa in June 2010
Zebras pictured in Kruger National Park in South Africa in June 2010. Travelling circuses in England will be banned from using wild animals from December 2015, the government announced on Tuesday, after a long campaign to end the practice.

Travelling circuses in England will be banned from using wild animals from December 2015, the government announced on Tuesday, after a long campaign to end the practice.

Introducing a draft bill in parliament, junior environment minister Robert Ponsonby said circus operators had until then to adapt their shows and find new homes for their animals.

"This legislation will end the use of in travelling circuses in this country. It will also help ensure that our as a leading protector of animals continues into a new global era," he said.

Lawmakers voted two years ago to end the use of wild animals in circuses and animal rights groups have been pressing for a change, but ministers initially feared a from operators.

"There is no place in today's society for wild animals to be used for our entertainment and we are absolutely delighted," said Peter Jones, president of the British Veterinary Association.

Prime Minister David Cameron's government has already introduced tough new regulations to safeguard , and two circuses are currently licensed to use about 20 wild animals between them.

But Jones said such an arrangement was insufficient, saying the animals' needs "cannot be met within the environment of a travelling circus".

Of the two licensed circuses, the Circus Mondao's acts include camels, llamas and , while Peter Jolly's Circus showed photographs of llamas in its online gallery.

They also use horses, which will be allowed under the proposed law.

A spokesman for their industry body, the Classical Circus Association, said a ban was unnecessary.

Chris Barltrop said circus operators had welcomed the new regulatory arrangements, which includes unannounced inspections, saying licences were proof "that we are doing it right".

"A ban is unnecessary, because we've proved to the satisfaction of people who are looking at it in a detached and scientific way that it is ok" to have animals in circuses, he told AFP.

He said the inspectors assessed the animals' physical conditions as well as their psychological needs, adding: "We're on a par with other captive environments—we've proved that."

Ponsonby admitted that for decades wild animals had been an integral part of the British circus industry, offering the public probably their only glimpse of exotic animals.

But he said that zoos and wildlife documentaries had given people a greater appreciation of the animals, and shifting public opinion meant that the "overwhelming majority" now believed wild animals should not be part of the circus experience.


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Apr 16, 2013
Wow. The eco freaks strike again.

Now you an't even have llamas and Zebras in a circus.

These idiots should be exiled to some small island in the middle of the Atlantic, or better yet, Pacific.

A circus Zebra is sure as hell treated better than he would be in the wild. There, he'll eventually be a nice lunch for a lion, crocodile, or a pack of hyenas.

Apr 16, 2013
This is a sad result. There simply isn't enough wild habitat for zebras, llamas, and most of the species of zoo animals. Most of these zoo animals are domestically bred and wouldn't have a home if they weren't in circuses. Tight regulation of circuses would provide these animals a chance at life and reproduction.

Apr 16, 2013
Whole the concept of circus with animals trained is disgusting and primitive entertainment for primitive bored people. These animals don't know, what they're doing, they don't understand, why they're doing it - they just fear of punishment if they will not do it like living machines.

Apr 17, 2013
A circus Zebra is sure as hell treated better than he would be in the wild. There, he'll eventually be a nice lunch for a lion, crocodile, or a pack of hyenas.


Humans on occasion have been known to miss treat animals. The few you do take out of the wild aren't going to cause less zebra lunches, just different ones. You're assuming a caged life is better than a free yet dangerous one, many humans would disagree. Do they really keep these wild animals for their whole lives? Don't they capture the ones they need only for the duration of the performances? What happens to the predators when you take away their food source?

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