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The UK Government has announced that using wild animals in circuses in Britain, will be officially banned by 2020. Regulations have been in place for the past half-decade which allow the use of wild animals for circus entertainment. These will expire on the 19th January 2020. They will then become illegal to renew, meaning Britain joins the growing list of countries where wild animals are free from circus exploitation.

This move is said to be based on ‘ethical grounds’, driven by many surveys that consistently reveal the public’s disapproval of this form of entertainment, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). “The government does not intend to renew the regulations as it intends to ensure that a legislative ban is introduced by then. The regulations will then be allowed to expire,” says Defra.

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At present, the UK has only two remaining circuses – Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus, who have 19 animals between them. Six reindeer, four zebras, three camels, three racoons, a fox, a macaw and a zebu (humped South Asian cattle) travel with the circuses. Animal rights campaigns and activists are sure to be very relieved as this new law has been a long time coming. All across the globe, circuses are reputable for treating captive animals violently, denying these animals adequate nutrition, keeping them in cramped and unsanitary enclosures, and forcing them to perform for an audience.

It has been said that many of the behaviours that these animals – lions, monkeys, camels, elephants, dogs, zebras and more – are forced to perform would not occur if they were left to live freely in their natural habitats.

Prior to this bill being passed in government, 94.5% of the public voted in support of freeing animals used for circuses, as well as preventing more from being introduced in the future. Scotland, Italy, New York and India have already taken action to ban this practice. Wales is set to introduce a ban, also.

The president of Animal Defenders International, Jan Creamer, shared her congratulations to the UK government for following through with their previous discussions to implement this ban. “Having campaigned to stop circus suffering around the world for over 20 years, we’re delighted that a ban is finally imminent,” she said.

“Circuses cannot meet the needs of animals in small, mobile accommodation and ADI has repeatedly documented suffering and abuse. We congratulate the UK Government on consigning this outdated act to the past where it belongs.”