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UK Bans All Wild Animals From Circuses By 2020

Britain has announced a complete ban wild animals from all circus acts — and travelling companies have two years to comply.

It follows a similar ban that’s currently being passed in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, and an announcement from Wales earlier in February to do the same.

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The government has announced that the ban will come before January 2020 — and animal rights activists are pretty stoked with the victory. Organisations including the RSPCA have been campaigning to ban the use of wild animals in circuses for over 20 years.

According to the RSPCA, there are currently 16 animals in English circuses: six reindeer, three camels, three zebra, a fox, a macaw, a racoon, and one zebu (a species of cattle). Although a small number, the charity says the impact of circuses have a “serious and potentially debilitating for each and every wild animal involved.”


“The news that the Government has said there will be no wild animals in circuses in England after the 2019 season or earlier is very welcome and comes as a huge relief,” said David Bowles, head of campaigns at RSPCA. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Read More: Scotland to Become First in UK to Ban Wild Animals from Circus Acts

“This announcement gives circuses a clear 2-year warning that no more licences will be issued and after that there will be a ban on wild animals in circuses,” he added. “The complex needs of wild animals can never be adequately met in a circus environment and regular transport, cramped, and bare temporary housing, forced training, and performance are all unavoidable realities for the animals.”

A consultation from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2011 found that 94% of the public supported a ban.

The ban first promised by David Cameron to be delivered by January 2015 after introducing draft legislation two years earlier, and the pledge made it into the Conservative manifesto.

From 2012 there have been regulations in place that require a licence to use wild animals in circuses. The regulations expire January 19, 2020 — and the government will not renew them as the legislative ban will then take hold.

Councils already have the power to enforce a ban, but only half actually have done so.

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

“We remain absolute in our commitment to banning wild animals in circuses and intend to introduce the ban prior to the regulations expiring in January 2020,” said a Defra spokesperson. “Until we are able to achieve this, we will impose the strictest possible standards to ensure the welfare needs of these animals are met.”

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