Circuses to be banned from using wild animals

Travelling circuses in England will be banned from using wild animals under new government proposals

From 1 December 2015 it will be an offence for any operator to use a wild animal in performances or exhibitions in circuses within England, with fines of up to £5,000 for flouting the law.

The decision follows lengthy campaigning by politicians and animal welfare groups.

MPs overwhelmingly supported a ban in June 2011, but ministers initially expressed concerns over potential legal action from circus operators.

Tory Mark Pritchard, who raised the backbench motion in 2011, said: “This is a victory for animal welfare and common sense – and proves that politicians who have belief, stick to their principles, and persevere despite hostile opposition, can still shape events.”

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee of MPs suggested some species, such as camels and zebras, could be exempted from the ban.

The government must now decide whether to follow this recommendation or continue with a blanket ban.