Wild Animals in Circuses

The use of wild animals in travelling circuses is BANNED in Wales - with the ban coming into force from 1 December 2020, under the Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Act. This followed years of campaigning by the RSPCA.

A YouGov poll for RSPCA Cymru had found that 74 percent of the public in Wales supported a ban on wild animals performing in circuses in Wales*- while approximately 9,000 supporters penned an RSPCA petition presented to the Senedd's Petitions Committee in 2015.

Wales joined an estimated 45 countries, nations or states worldwide to ban or restrict the use of either all, or some wild animals in circuses.

Based on scientific evidence which clearly demonstrates that life within a travelling circus is likely to have harmful effects on an animal's welfare, the RSPCA had called for years for this practice to be banned. Regular transport, cramped housing, forced training and loud noises were sadly an unavoidable reality for wild animals based within a circus setting.

The RSPCA did believe - due to the impact on animal welfare and the suffering caused to wild animals being used in circuses - that a ban can be brought in under Section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, saving parliamentary time. However, the Welsh Government subsequently introduced the Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Bill on ethical grounds.

After years of tireless campaigning, RSPCA Cymru warmly welcomed the Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Act 2020 coming into effect. However, we remain concerned that the legislation allows travelling circuses to still take wild animals on tour with them - just not use them for performance or training; meaning the welfare of captive wild animals may still be seriously compromised.
Indeed, the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee considered how, in the absence of a more complete ban than presently written into the Bill, the legislation may fail to meet the public's expectations. RSPCA Cymru support the legislation being kept under review - to ensure these loopholes are not unduly compromising welfare.