On 10th May, the Scottish Environment Secretary introduced a Bill which makes it an offence for a circus operator to cause or permit a wild animal to be used in a travelling circus in Scotland, and allows for the enforcement of such an offence. On ethical grounds, the Bill prohibits the use of any wild animal in a travelling circus in Scotland.
Public concern in Scotland has grown following the story of Anne the elephant, who was abused by a keeper at a circus in England, and by the recent overwintering of circus big cats in Scotland which were temporarily on public display in their travelling accommodation.
In 2014 the Scottish Government ran a public consultation on proposals to ban the use of wild animals in circuses on ethical grounds. A total of 2,043 responses were received, overwhelmingly in favour of a ban with 98 percent of the responders agreeing that the use of wild animals for performances in travelling circuses should be banned in Scotland.
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform in Scotland Roseanna Cunningham (right) said today that: “Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and we take this issue very seriously. The bill we have introduced today bans the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, which is widely considered to be morally unacceptable in the present day”.
[The full Scottish Government press release is available here]
The Bill will now need to go through the Scottish Parliament before coming into force at some point next year. The majority of European countries have already adopted a total or partial ban on using wild animals in circuses.
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