In December, Scotland passed legislation banning the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. The bill bans the use of non-domesticated animals for performance or exhibition in travelling shows but does not apply to static circuses.
MSPs unanimously signed off the ban, the first of its kind in the UK.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the move would send a message to the world that Scotland does not condone the misuse of wild animals.
There are not currently any travelling circuses based in Scotland which use wild animals. However, a Scottish government survey found that more than 95% of respondents were in favor of a ban, and legislation was introduced at Holyrood on “ethical” grounds.
Ms. Cunningham conceded that such travelling circuses rarely visit Scotland, but called it a preventative measure based on ethical concerns.
“This is an important act that will not only prevent travelling circuses ever showing wild animals in Scotland in the future, but will demonstrate to the wider world that we are one of the growing number of countries that no longer condones the use of wild animals in this way,” she stated.
Labor’s Claudia Beamish also spoke in favor of the ban, and said she hoped static circuses would be subject to a similar ban in future.
A ban on wild animals in all circuses in the Republic of Ireland came into force on January 1, 2018. A total of 18 other EU countries banned or restricted the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, in addition to 14 other countries.