After a very long period of consultation and a huge amount of lobbying by the Veterinary profession, it has been announced that the use of wild animals in travelling circuses will soon be banned.

The proposals to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England were published this week and will come into effect on 1 December 2015.

It has been argued by the Veterinary profession that there is no place in today’s society for wild animals to be used for our entertainment. The draft Bill will make it illegal to use wild animals in circus performances.

Vets have been of the opinion that the welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within the environment of a travelling circus, especially in terms of accommodation and the ability to express normal behaviour. It is felt that the kind of facilities that can be offered to these animals with the kind of mobile set up that a traveling circus entails, cannot serve their needs adequately and is now out of step with the standards that should be expected.

Initially, there was a proposal that there should be a licensing scheme which would have provided better controls but would not have addressed the fundamental issues. Together with the Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society and the RSPCA, the British Veterinary Society have urged the Government to do all it can to introduce a complete ban as quickly as possible.

Although it only affects a small number of animals – currently there are twenty wild animals performing in two licensed circuses in England – this is an issue that has been increasingly shaped by public opinion and concerns over animal welfare.

Circuses can still put on a fantastic family show without using wild animals but the proposed ban at the end of 2015 still seems a long way off. Vets hope that the public will vote with their feet until then and only support Circuses that do not use wild animals as part of their show.