Outright ban on wild animals in the circus is long overdue

Sir Kevin Barron. Photo: Richard Maude
Sir Kevin Barron. Photo: Richard Maude

I have long believed that circuses are no place for wild animals and at the last election, I stood on a manifesto which outlined support for a ban, writes Sir Kevin Barron MP.

I therefore support the Government’s Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, which will make it an offence for a circus operator to use a wild animal in a travelling circus in England.

I am pleased this Bill passed Second Reading, unopposed, in the House of Commons.

However, this Bill is long overdue.

The Coalition Government published a draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill in 2013 but did not make time for it to become law.

And despite a 2015 manifesto commitment to implement a ban, the Government also failed to introduce the necessary law during the last Parliament.

Every day that the Bill has not been in place, there have been wild animals in circuses that should have been free to enjoy life beyond the circus.

Instead, the wild animals used in travelling circuses have been carted from one venue to another, sometimes in cramped cages and barren trailers.

They are often taught to perform tricks through fear of punishment.

This denies animals their most basic needs.

We should be clear this must end.

It is very important that this Bill is drawn up carefully so there are no unintended consequences, and so that we ensure there are no wild animals in our circuses.

I also believe that all wild animals currently in circuses must have a good life after their circus days have come to an end.

There must therefore be a robust transition process in place.

I will continue to support efforts to tighten the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill.

And I look forward to this passing into law at the earliest possible opportunity.