Updated May 2, 2019. The UK government announced earlier this week legislation to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, following a decade of promises and more than 20 years of investigations.
“This legislation has been along time coming and as successive UK governments have prevaricated, more than half of the world’s circus bans have passed. After years of promises, and shocking scenes of suffering documented by Animal Defenders International, we cannot wait to see the day when wild animal circus acts are finally banned across the UK,” said Jan Creamer, president of the nonprofit organization Animal Defenders International (ADI), in a statement.
A ban was first promised by the Labour Government during the passage of the Animal Welfare Act of 2006. The result of a 2010 survey conducted by ADI showed that 94.5 percent of UK residents were in favor of a ban. The new bill, introduced by Environmental Secretary Michael Gove, aims to eliminate the use of animals such as reindeer, zebras, and camels.
What’s Wrong With the Circus?
“Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals in the 21st century and I am pleased that this legislation will put an end to this practice for good,” Gove said. He continued, “Today’s announcement follows other measures we have taken to strengthen our position as a world leader on animal protection. This includes our ban on ivory sales to protect elephants, and delivering Finn’s Law to strengthen the protection of service animals.”
At present, the UK has only two remaining circuses – Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus, who have 19 animals between them. Six reindeer, four zebras, three camels, three racoons, a fox, a macaw and a zebu (humped South Asian cattle) travel with the circuses.
All across the globe, circuses are known for treating captive animals violently, denying these animals adequate nutrition, keeping them in cramped and unsanitary enclosures, and forcing them to perform for an audience.
It has been said that many of the behaviors that these animals — lions, monkeys, camels, elephants, dogs, zebras and more — are forced to perform would not occur if they were left to live freely in their natural habitats.
The new announcement follows the February 2018 commitment to ban wild animal circuses by 2020.