British Veterinary Association joins calls for all wild animals to be banned from UK circuses.

A select committee report released this morning (July 9) on the Government’s proposals to ban the use of all wild animals in circuses in England has been strongly criticised.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efracom) recommendation that any initial prohibition be limited only to big cats and elephants has been criticised by the BVA, Born Free Foundation and the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, which claim that there are no elephants or big cats in English circuses, so any ban would fail to protect any of the wild animals still being used in big tops around the country.

A spokesman for the organisations said: “In effect, a ban introduced on the basis that has now been recommended would be absolutely meaningless for those wild animals that the Government has promised to protect.”

In the new report following scrutiny of draft legislation, Efracom states that opposition to the use of wild animals in circuses is based on the mistaken belief by the public that elephants and big cats are still used in large numbers in English circuses.

Campaigners have criticised this view saying that it is “pure conjecture that has no basis in evidence, but which, if taken up by Government, would render the ban effectively meaningless”.

The three organisations are convinced there is no evidence to support Efracom’s view that public concern is focused on big cats and elephants, nor that there is a general misunderstanding of the species and numbers of animals being used by circuses – as the information has been well-publicised for several years.

A spokesman added: “To make this suggestion is to ignore the calls of the 94% of respondents to the 2010 public consultation on this matter, to dismiss the reams of evidence and opinion published in Hansard, and to overlook the outcome of dozens of hours of parliamentary debate, dating back to 2005 and earlier; all of which clearly demonstrate the overwhelming support for a ban on all wild animals in travelling circuses.

“We request in the strongest possible terms that the Government rejects this recommendation and continues with its commendable plan to ban the use of all wild animals in circuses in England, as promised.”

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