Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals. This is the overwhelming view of the public, respected bodies of animal welfare and Members of Parliament.
Instead of pursuing a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, the Prime Minister decided in May 2011 to introduce a licensing system.
This Government prescribed that any circus in England that wished to have wild animals in circuses such as lions, tigers and elephants performing would need to be able to demonstrate that they meet high animal welfare standards for each animal before they can be granted a licence to keep these animals.
This is the wrong and outdated approach. No travelling circus could ever provide a suitable environment or meet the particular needs of wild animals such as elephants or lions. We cannot continue to justify keeping captive wild animals which are endangered or threatened purely for our own entertainment.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that he is sympathetic to a ban when ‘Parliamentary time allows’. In April last year his Government even published a draft Bill prohibiting the use of wild animals in circuses. So I am appalled at a time where we have very little legislation that this Bill wasn’t included in this year’s Queen Speech.
Next month an important Private Members’ Bill will be introduced in the House of Commons calling on the Government to introduce the necessary legislation to end the practice.