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Animal Welfare: Circuses

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will ban the use of non-domesticated animals in travelling circuses; and if he will make a statement. (177345)

Mike Radford’s report on wild animal acts in travelling circuses was released on 20 November 2007. The Working Group concluded that a ban on wild animals in circuses could not be legally justified purely on scientific grounds. In these circumstances a ban could not be made by using secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Officials are currently considering the feasibility of introducing secondary legislation under the Act to promote the welfare of wild animal acts.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations govern the use of wild animals in circuses; what changes he is planning to make to these regulations; and if he will make a statement. (177860)

[holding answer 14 January 2008]: The welfare of performing animals is provided for in the general provisions to avoid suffering and ensure welfare in the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

In addition, the training and exhibition of performing animals is further regulated by the Performing Animals Act (Regulation) Act 1925, which requires trainers and exhibitors of such animals to be registered with the local authority. Under the 1925 Act, the police and officers of local authorities, who may include a veterinarian, have power to enter premises where animals are being trained and exhibited. If cruelty and neglect is detected, magistrates courts can prohibit or restrict the training or exhibition of the animals and suspend or cancel the registration granted.

Mike Radford’s report on wild animal acts in travelling circuses was released on 20 November 2007. Officials are currently considering the feasibility of introducing secondary legislation under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to regulate the welfare of wild animal acts, and so replace the 1925 Act.