A bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses has been unveiled by Michael Gove, the environment secretary.
The news was welcomed by animal welfare groups, who have long campaigned for a ban. Animals used in circuses include reindeer, zebras and camels but wild animals have complex needs that cannot be met in a circus environment.
The news follows other legislation designed to improve animal welfare.
Animal welfare minister David Rutley said that the announcement “follows a commitment in February 2018 to introduce a ban by the time the existing interim licensing regulations expire in January 2020”.
British Veterinary Association president Simon Doherty said: “While this issue may not affect a great number of individual animals, a ban is emblematic of how we should be treating animals in modern world.”
Head of animal welfare and captivity at the Born Free Foundation Chris Draper said: “The use of wild animals in travelling circuses is outdated and unpopular, and this legislation will bring England into line with a long and increasing list of countries which have banned this practice.”
The RSPCA’s head of public affairs David Bowles said: “It’s high time keeping wild animals in circuses is consigned to the history books.”