The use of wild animals in traveling circuses has been banned in Scotland – making it the first country in the UK to do so.
Campaigners have hailed the victory – calling captivity in circuses a ‘living hell’ for animals.
The ban was unanimously signed off by MSPs [Members of Scottish Parliament].
Scotland’s Environment Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, proposed the bill, which reflects the Scottish mood: a Government survey found that more than 95 percent of respondents were in favor of a ban.
She said: “This is an important act that will not only prevent travelling circuses ever showing wild animals in Scotland in the future, but will demonstrate to the wider world that we are one of the growing number of countries that no longer condones the use of wild animals in this way.”
She added that the legislation around exactly what constitutes a wild animal in the ban is ‘deliberately general’ in order to let courts give animals as broad protection as possible when applying the law.
Despite this, some MSPs want the legislation extended to cover all animal performances – including bird of prey displays or greyhound racing.
Mark Ruskell is the Environment Spokesperson for the Scottish Greens. More than 10 years ago, he proposed a ban on wild animals in circuses to Holyrood.
He said: “I’m delighted that Holyrood has finally approved a bill to ban this abuse, joining dozens of other countries around the world.
“The Scottish government must now look at banning the use of wild animals in static circuses and further regulation of performances where the welfare of animals may be compromised.”
Now campaigners want to see the legislation rolled out across the UK.
According to PETA Director Elisa Allen: “A circus environment can’t possibly meet the complex needs [of wild animals].
“These animals are understandably frustrated, stressed and depressed from a lifetime of being denied the opportunity to do anything that’s natural and important to them, kept caged in trailers that are hauled around the country, and forced to perform confusing tricks under the big top out of some Victorian-era sense of amusement.
“Let’s hope the progress in Holyrood serves to light a fire under the government in Westminster, which, despite years of promising to bring in a ban, continues to sit back and do nothing as England falls further and further behind the growing number of countries putting a stop to these cruel institutions.”
Several attempts have been made to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in England.
The Government published proposals to do so as far back as 2013.
While the plans were popular with the public, the Labour party and PM David Cameron, a small group of Conservative backbenchers repeated blocked the proposals.