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Wales Is Set to Ban Circus Animals — and England Might Follow

Wales is seems set to follow in Scotland’s footsteps after it announced plans to end the use of wild animals in circuses. 

Rural affairs secretary Lesley Griffiths said this week that she is “exploring opportunities” — and a debate on the subject is planned in March. 

While there are no circuses based in Wales permanently, touring companies do visit, she said, “and it is important the welfare needs of their animals are not overlooked.” 

Take action: Thanks the UK for Committing to Immunise up to 45 Million Children Against Polio Every Year

According to Animal Defenders International (ADI), which said it “welcomes” the decision, three circuses featuring wild animals have toured Wales in recent years. 

The RSPCA meanwhile, said it is “absolutely delighted” that its 20-year campaign appears to be near victory.

“The RSPCA has fought for years to see this ban become a reality — and we are absolutely delighted that the Welsh government has confirmed its intention to bring forward legislation to end this outdated and cruel practice on this country’s soil,” Claire Lawson from RSPCA Cymru, told the BBC

Read more: Scotland to Become First in UK to Ban Wild Animals From Circus Acts

Scotland also announced a ban on wild animals in circuses in December, and Griffiths said she would be looking to emulate the Scottish legislation, “particularly discussion of ethical and welfare arguments for a ban.” 

A ban on the use of wild animals in all circuses in the Republic of Ireland also came into force in January; and Italy banned them in November. According to ADI, over 40 countries have now introduced prohibitions on animals in circuses — including Mexico, Greece, India, and Singapore. 

And now in England, after publishing draft legislation in 2013, the government is reported to be taking action, according to ADI. The organisation reported that a ban was “finally” to be progressed by the UK government, on Jan. 8. 

Read more: Lion and Tigers and Bears, No More! — Italy Just Banned the Use of Circus Animals

“If true, it signifies an end to years of inaction and more than a decade of promises by successive governments, during which ADI has time and again exposed animal suffering,” it said

But, the ADI described the UK’s rate of progress as “shameful” — with 27 countries having ended the practice since the UK legislation was drafted. 

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