The UK continues to edge towards a complete ban of using wild animals in circuses, with Wales now bringing in a new legislation, following on from the same move from Scotland recently.
Lesley Griffiths, the Rural Affairs Minister of the Welsh Government says that wild animals should be “treated with respect”.
Her proposals were “overwhelmingly backed” in a recent consultation which had over 6500 responses, with only a minority against it, including lion-tamer Thomas Chipperfield who says the new law is “illiberal”.
With the new Welsh legislation it will be an offence for wild animals to be used in a travelling circus, whether by the owner themselves, or by others permitted to use them by the owner.
Those who break the law will face an unlimited fine in the courts.
Ms Griffiths said:
“The introduction of this bill sends a clear message that this government and the people of Wales believe this practice to be outdated and ethically unacceptable”
However, Mr Chipperfield, who has worked and performed with travelling circuses in the UK , commented that the new law is “a very illiberal move”.
He has owned big cats for 8 years, including 2 African lions, a Bengal tiger, horses and dogs. In defense of the use of animals in the circus scene, he said:
“The animals are a part of the family and suited to this lifestyle. It is what they understand, they don’t fear what they have a firm grasp of. It shouldn’t come to the point where I am stopped from doing a legitimate practice”
Mr Chipperfield added that the use of wild animals in circuses should not be “a major concern” to the British public.
Meanwhile, Claire Lawson of RSPCA Cymru fully backed the new legislation and believes wild animals should not be part of travelling circuses and that this form of entertainment has “no place in modern Wales”.
“It’s great the Welsh Government have taken that on board and acted for these animals,” she said.”