There’s only a small handful of circuses that still use ‘wild animals’ in their acts. It’s estimated that there is between 35 and 50 wild animals performing in the UK. Despite the small number of animals the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have confirmed that the cost of a temporary licensing scheme is going to come to £300,000 or at least £6,000 per animal.
MP’s last year voted to ban the use of ‘wild animals’ in travelling circuses and the government has confirmed that it will honour the decisions by the MP’s and until legislation can be bought in to enforce the ban a new licensing scheme is to be introduced to ensure the welfare of the animals.
The cost to the taxpayer of issuing the licenses have been released by DEFRA and has been placed at £300,000 over the next few months.
Responding to the announcement from DEFRA the Chief Executive of Care for the Wild International, Philip Mansbridge said: “This is a scandalous waste of tax payers’ money, a vast majority of the British public have made it clear that they no longer wish to see wild animals such as tigers and elephants being exploited and suffering, in order to provide so called entertainment in travelling circuses.
The Government has continued to ignore public opinion and the views of MP’s on this issue and is pressing ahead with a costly licensing scheme, which will provide a green light for circuses to continue to cause suffering and distress to wild animals.
We call on the new DEFRA Secretary of State Owen Patterson to stop wasting tax payer’s money on a scheme which has no support and take immediate action to introduce legislation for a complete ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.”
When the ban was voted for by MP’s the government promised to develop legislation when parliamentary time allowed.
In a written parliamentary statement issued in March this year, Lord Taylor said: “There is no place in today’s society for wild animals being used for our entertainment in travelling circuses. Wild animals deserve our respect.
“We have said many times we wanted to ban this outdated practice, but before we could do that there were serious legal issues we had to consider. We are developing proposals to introduce a bill as soon as parliamentary time allows. In the meantime we are introducing a Circus Licensing Scheme to ensure decent conditions for wild animals in travelling circuses.”
The new licensing scheme which is now coming into force will:
- require handlers to have a licence,
- meet welfare standards,
- have a retirement plan for each animal,
- provide proper accommodation,
- full veterinary care,
- a good diet and
- high welfare standards during training and performances.