Scotland bans use of wild animals in travelling circuses

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Scotland bans use of wild animals in travelling circuses” was written by Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 20th December 2017 23.57 Asia/Kolkata

Scotland has become the first part of the UK to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.

Animal welfare campaigners welcomed the legislation, which was passed by the Scottish parliament on Wednesday afternoon, as leading the way for the Westminster government to address the issue.

The director of the animal rights group Peta, Elisa Allen, said: “Captivity is a living hell for animals such as tigers and lions, and a circus environment can’t possibly meet their complex needs. 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.”

The Scottish bill was proposed by Scotland’s environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, who 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.”

Cunningham explained during the Holyrood debate on Wednesday that the definition of what constitutes a wild animal for the purposes of the ban had been left deliberately general to allow courts to afford the animals with as broad a protection as possible when applying the new law.

Some MSPs, however, have raised concerns that the bill does not fully address all animal performances, such as greyhound racing or bird of prey displays.

Mark Ruskell, the environment spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, who first proposed a ban on wild animals in circuses to Holyrood more than a decade ago, 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.”

Libby Anderson, a policy adviser for the animal protection charity OneKind, said: “After years of campaigning by OneKind, I’m delighted that Scotland has become the first country in the UK to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

“Today’s historic announcement means that never again will we have to see lions, tigers and elephants suffering in cramped trucks, being made to perform tricks purely for people’s entertainment.”

Jan Creamer, the president of Animal Defenders International, said: “The public called for a ban, and the Scottish government and parliament listened, banishing travelling circuses with wild animals forever. Meanwhile, England continues to sit on its hands, and a bill nearly five years old – no more delays, it’s time to stop circus suffering.”

After a long campaign, in 2013 the government published its proposals to ban travelling circuses from using wild animals. However, despite the personal support of the then prime minister, David Cameron, the government, Labour and more than 90% of the British public, the proposals were repeatedly blocked by a small group of circus-supporting Tory backbenchers.

The Scottish parliament’s move reflects a growing trend around the world towards protecting animals in circuses. In January the American circus, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, said it would close after 146 years because of declining tickets sales and high operating costs. It came the year after the circus retired its elephant act, following legal action by activists. It admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to a six-figure fine several years before ending the elephant performances.

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Scotland bans use of wild animals in travelling circuses - NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).