Making it an Offence to Use Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses

Legislation to make it an offence to use wild animals in Travelling Circuses is currently making its way as a Bill through the Scottish Parliament. A recent consultation came down overwhelmingly in favour of banning the exhibition and display of wild animals in travelling circuses.

It has been many years since travelling circuses came to Scotland using wild animals in their entertainment programme,however, this legislation would tighten up the law and make it an offence to use wild animals in this way.

Convener of the lead committee overseeing the progress of the Bill is  Graeme Dey MSP. He  said:

“We know that people feel very strongly about protecting wild animals in travelling circuses.

 “In Scotland, the use of animals in circuses as a form of entertainment is somewhat of a rarity. In fact, such a travelling circus hasn’t visited Scotland for many years. 

“However, if this Bill is passed, it will make it an offence for circus operators to use wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland. 

“What the Committee wants to know is whether the Scottish public think this is the best way to protect wild animals.”

Information if you wish to contribute your views to the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee about the legislation 

The Committee is keen to hear views on the content of the Bill as drafted.  Specifically, the Committee would like comment on:

  • The ethical basis for the Bill, as opposed to other justifications such as animal welfare
  • The effectiveness of the creation of an offence to prevent wild animals being used in travelling circuses in Scotland
  • Alternative approaches to preventing the use of wild animals being used in travelling circuses
  • The definitions of key phrases in the Bill such as “wild animal”, “animal”, “circus operator” and “travelling circus”
  • Proposed culpability
  • The effectiveness of proposed powers of enforcement

Before responding, please read our policy (Parliament’s policy on handling information received in response to calls for evidence) and note the following—

  • please keep your written response as concise as possible – ideally no more than 4 sides of A4;
  • the written response should be provided electronically in MS Word format (please do not send PDFs or confirmatory hard copies)
  • Please send responses to:
  • The Committee welcomes written evidence in English, Gaelic or any other language
  • Owing to the timescales required to process and analyse evidence, late submissions will only be accepted with the advance agreement of the Committee Convener.

If you wish to make a hard copy submission, please address it to—
Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee
Room T3.40
The Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

The deadline for responses is 17:00 on Friday 9 June 2017.

You can read evidence received by the Committee at the link below.

Written Evidence

What happens next?

The Committee will take oral evidence on the Bill at public Committee meetings in May and June 2017. The Committee will then publish a report of its views on the Bill to the Scottish Parliament following the summer recess.


3 replies »

  1. I honestly thought that it was already illegal to use wild animals in circuses.
    The fact that this is, in theory, still allowed, makes a non-sense of a lot of the work which has been done to protect species from being taken from the wild, and to prevent the potential associated damage to wild communities ( killing the mother to take the young).
    What is the point of legislating to protect wild animals, whilst allowing their use in this way? It’s contradictory.
    I’ll send this article on to people, and ask them to please do the same if they wish to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

  2. At least Barnum & Bailey’s Ringling Circus in the US is now shutting down. They made extensive use of animals, especially elephants and tigers. A step in the right direction.

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