Scotland for Animals welcomes indications from the Scottish Government that it is about to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.
The inclusion of wild animals in any legislation should this be enacted is positive, however the number of non-domesticated animals used in circuses in the UK is comparatively minuscule.
While one wild animal in a circus is one too many, the large number of domesticated animals now being used for entertainment in these shows will continue to be exploited. An example of this can be seen in a circus currently touring Scotland with a “family” of performing cats.
Proposals also do not appear to include static circuses, which would create a huge legal loophole. Nor do they appear to include a ban on any circuses operating in Scotland from owning animals, which could potentially lead to animals still being permitted to be transported with these circuses as long as they were not shown in Scottish performances.
When the potential ineffectiveness of this legislation is viewed in correspondence to claims from government that this is a significant leap forward, we fear that this is another case of Ministers taking the path of least resistance for maximum positive PR.
The enthusiasm for this ban contrasts sharply with the indifference and often hostility shown by the same officials to calls for the protection of animals at time of slaughter, harsher penalties for cruelty to ‘companion animals’, or an end to the use of animals in experiments.
We would appeal to MSPs to consider these problems and tighten any legislation to include all animals. Any moves for legislative change must be part of a broader framework of implementing a comprehensive legal overhaul of our system of animal protection or they will fail.
John Patrick. Co-Convenor
Aiysha Ullah. Co-Convenor