|A Chipperfield tiger|
There's good news for the future of circuses with animals as a statement from the Welsh government seems to suggest that a proposed ban on wild animals in the big top will now be replaced with a licensing scheme similar to the one currently in force in England.
Circus operators and fans feared the worst in 2015 when the Welsh Assembly's deputy minister for farms and food promised a ban on "ethical" grounds, stating, "The Welsh Government believes there is no place for wild animals in circuses."
Those fears seemed confirmed when Professor Stephen Harris, a long term opponent of circus animals was appointed to carry out a study of the sector and predictably delivered a report supporting a ban.
According to a new statement by Lesley Griffths, Cabinet Secretary for Environmental and Rural Affairs, however, the Assembly has decided to step back from a ban and impose a licensing scheme instead.
Griffiths states, in part:
As always, however, the threat of a ban has not gone away completely, with Griffiths adding the following caveats:
For more on the hundred-year history of attempts to ban circus animals from British big tops, click here.
Update January 2017: Does the changing situation in Wales reflect changing attitudes in a post-Trump, post-Brexit world? Click here for more on the political circus.