The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has called on the Scottish Government to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses after it launched a consultation on the issue.
With a ban expected in England by the end of 2015, following a campaign backed by the BVA, Born Free Foundation, Captive Animals’ Protection Society and RSPCA, the BVA wrote to ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to call for the proposed legislation to be extended.
BVA president Robin Hargreaves said: “We are pleased people in Scotland will have an opportunity to voice their opinions on this important issue and we encourage them to do so. BVA vets have been quite clear the welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within the environment of a travelling circus, especially in terms of accommodation and the ability to express normal behaviour.
“We strongly support a ban of wild animals in travelling circuses and would like to see all administrations in the UK ban this unethical practice.”
Scotland’s rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said the issue of wild animals in circuses is one “attracting concern elsewhere”.
“It is prudent we also consider the implications for Scotland.” he said.
“The health and wellbeing of these animals is clearly something which is close to many people’s hearts and is one of the main reasons why we are seeking views in this consultation.”
BVA Scottish branch president Ronnie Soutar said a travelling circus is “no place for wild animals” and their welfare is of “grave concern“.
“We urge the Scottish Government to do all it can to end this exploitation of animals and hope this consultation will prove an important step towards a total ban of such performances in Scotland.”
BVA said it will be officially responding to the 12-week consultation – launched on January 22 – repeating its call for a UK-wide ban.
There are four operational travelling circuses using wild animals in England. Although there are none based in Scotland at this time, said the BVA, it and other campaigners would like to see UK-wide legislation to prevent such performances moving to the devolved countries in the future.
For more information or to respond to the consultation, visit the Scottish Government’s website.
Consultation responses must be received by April 16.