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Wild Animals in Circuses

Volume 528: debated on Thursday 19 May 2011

In my statement to the House of 13 May 2011, Official Report, column 48WS, on the question of the protection of the welfare of performing wild animals in circuses, I indicated that the Austrian Government had recently been taken to court for introducing a ban on wild animals in circuses, as a European Circus Association press release stated. However, I now understand that the initiation of court proceedings has been delayed, although a case is in preparation. My understanding is that such proceedings are likely to be issued in the near future. I would like to avoid any misunderstanding.

This does not impact on the policy I announced to the House about this matter. Having taken advice on the legal implications and on the proportionality of all the possible courses of action, I remain convinced that a tough licensing regime which introduces additional safeguards to protect wild animals in circuses is the most effective and legally sound route for the estimated 39 animals concerned.