Sir, Leading animal protection charity OneKind has called on the Scottish Parliament to pass a strong circus bill that will end the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland.
The Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill is currently making its way through the Scottish Parliament. The stage one debate on the Bill was expected to take place on Thursday October 5. MSPs were asked to approve the Bill in principle and then there will be opportunities to amend and strengthen it. Once the Bill is passed, it will make Scotland the first country in the UK to implement an outright ban on wild animals in circuses. The ban could be in place by Christmas.
It’s not so long since a traditional travelling circus toured Scotland with an aged, arthritic elephant, and it was a sad sight to see. As recently as 2015, there were two circus lions and three tigers confined in cages on a farm near Fraserburgh where they had spent the winter. This Bill in the Scottish Parliament is the opportunity to stop wild animals being treated that way, in the name of entertainment.
A Scottish Government consultation in 2014 showed the majority of the 2,034 people who responded were in favour of banning wild animals in circuses in Scotland. 98 per cent thought the use of wild animals for performance in travelling circuses should be banned; and 96.4 per cent thought the use of wild animals in exhibition (without performing) in travelling circuses should be banned.
Only last week the Estonian parliament passed a Bill to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. Scotland has the chance to join dozens of states around the world in showing commitment to animal welfare by banning the use of wild animals in circuses.
We earnestly hope that MSPs support the Bill, allowing it to proceed for detailed consideration and amendments that will make it stronger. Libby Anderson, OneKind policy adviser.