Thursday, 9 November 2017
Wild animals to be banned from circuses in Ireland and maybe Italy
Next year is the 250th anniversary of the circus, a global form of entertainment founded on horseback in London in 1768. But will the future of the big top be animal free?
It was reported this week that the Italian government has announced its intention to phase out the use of animals in the ring over a three-year period. The Senate will debate the issue in March next year, although what animals will be affected remains uncertain. According to industry sources, circuses are negotiating to keep domestic animals, exotics such as camels, and big cat acts, while offering to not use giraffes and elephants.
Meanwhile, closer to home, Ireland's Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has signed new regulations banning wild animals from Irish circuses from January 2018. Domestic animals such as dogs and horses will be unaffected.
The move follows the Scottish parliament signing off on the principle of a ban on wild animals in travelling shows in Scotland, although the details have yet to be finalised.
So far, a long-threatened ban in England has been staved off by the effectiveness of a licensing scheme introduced in its place - and perhaps the government's preoccupation with more pressing matters, such as Brexit.
But as the circus turns 250, the latest news from Italy and Ireland does not bode well for those who's idea of a circus includes elephants, lions and tigers.
Read about my visit to what could prove to be Britain's last circuses with elephants and big cats in Circus Mania. 2nd Edition available now.