The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the provisional decision by animal welfare minister Jim Fitzpatrick to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the provisional decision by animal welfare minister Jim Fitzpatrick to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England.

Circus  elephantPublic response to a consultation on the subject showed more than 94% of the 10,500+ respondents agreed with a complete ban, so Mr Fitzpatrick said he was minded to pursue the ban.

He said: “I agree with the clear view emerging from the huge response to the Government’s consultation that keeping wild animals to perform in travelling circuses is no longer acceptable. So, I am minded to pursue a ban on the use of these animals in circuses.

“We also want to make sure that circus animals are well looked after once they stop performing. Nobody wants to see them simply destroyed, and we will work with all concerned to secure a future for these animals.”

BVA president Bill ReillyResponding on behalf of the veterinary profession, the BVA called for the complete ban. President Bill Reilly said: “We are delighted that the minister has responded so positively to the overwhelming call for a complete ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.

“Although it only affects a small number of animals at present the BVA’s Ethics and Welfare Group felt that their needs and the needs of future animals could not be adequately met by the environmental conditions of a travelling circus.

“If the Government goes ahead with a ban it is vital that each animal is individually assessed so that appropriate action can be taken. This could include re-homing to a zoo or sanctuary, living out the rest of its life with existing owners, or other options that can meet its needs.”

Also responding to the news, the RSPCA claimed it was “thrilled with the results” of the consultation, as it has long held the view that animals should not be subjected to the suffering associated with circuses.

Claire Robinson, government relations manager for the animal charity, said: “We’re extremely delighted to see that the Government has decided to finally move forward with proposals to ban the use of animals in circuses and that the animal welfare minister agrees it’s no longer acceptable.”

To view an initial summary of responses to the consultation, click here. A more detailed analysis will be published before the summer recess.

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