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Use of wild animals in circuses to be banned in Wales

A Bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Wales has been passed by the Senedd.

The Bill was introduced just over a year ago, following consultation which saw thousands of members of the public make their views known.

There were more than 6,500 responses to the public consultation on the draft Bill, with 97% of respondents supporting the introduction of a ban.

Yesterday (15 July), members of the Senedd voted unanimously – by 53 votes to zero – in favour of the Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill passing its final stage of legislative scrutiny in the Welsh Parliament.

The Bill will make it an offence to use wild animals in travelling circuses – through performance or exhibition. It will now go forward for Royal Assent, with the ban set to come into force on 1 December 2020.

RSPCA Cymru has long led the campaign to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in Wales – with powers devolved for Wales to take this action since 2006. The charity says the news amounts to “an historic day” for animal welfare in this country.

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said:

“This Bill will address the ethical concerns of people across Wales by banning the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.

“The use of wild animals for entertainment in this way is outdated – wild animals are sentient beings with complex needs, and they should not be seen as commodities for our entertainment.

“I would like to thank all those who have contributed to getting the Bill to this stage, including Senedd Committees and Members for their consideration and scrutiny of the Bill, and the organisations and individuals who took time to provide evidence during scrutiny.”

Claire Lawson, RSPCA assistant director for external relations in Wales, said:

“This is an historic day for animals in Wales – with the spectre of wild animals being used in travelling circuses set to be consigned to the history books, once and for all.

“The RSPCA is proud to have long campaigned on this issue – and the strength of feeling in all corners of Wales was clear.

“We’re delighted this Welsh Government Bill has now passed its final legislative hurdle; making a hugely important statement concerning how policy in Wales matches societal norms and values towards our fellow living creatures.”

Wales has now joined other nations in Great Britain by taking action on this issue. In England, the Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019 gained Royal Assent in July 2019, and came into force in January this year; while in Scotland, the Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Act 2018 implemented a ban on 28 May 2018.