Animals in circuses


On Wednesday morning I attended a Westminster Hall debate on the decision by the Government not to ban wild animals in circuses. I wasn’t expecting to speak because I had to leave the debate early to go to another meeting on that I was co-hosting on the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, but everyone else seemed to be in the same position as me, so I got the chance to say a few words.
The Government has clearly got it wrong on this issue, and from what I’d been told, this decision was from the PM. I’m hoping that we’ll get an opportunity to debate the issue in the main chamber as back-bench business so that there can be a vote to show the level of support for a complete ban. The previous Labour Government failed to implement a ban, and I’m appalled that the Tories are now doing the same.
94% of people support a complete ban, and there are only a handful of circuses still using wild animals. Everyone knows that the conditions that they have to live in are not suitable for the animals even where they are well cared for and looked after. While I’m certain that instances of maltreatment are very rare, it is simply not appropriate for animals to be shunted from one location to another in confined, cramped conditions and for them to be expected to perform for audiences.
The Government wants to introduce a licensing scheme, but there is a real danger that this will actually increase the number of wild animals in circuses, because licensing will be seen as legitimising the use of wild animals.

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