Byline: PAUL WAUGH
EXOTIC animals are set to be banned from travelling circuses in Britain, the Government signalled today.
Animal welfare minister Ben Bradshaw said he was looking at evidence that travelling circuses caused unnecessary cruelty.
Acts involving elephants, lions and tigers would be outlawed but domesticated species such as horses and dogs would still be allowed.
Circuses in London have been picketed by animal rights campaigners in recent years, with parents and children being handed leaflets outside.
Activists today welcomed Mr Bradshaw's statement to MPs, claiming the public wants to see a ban on all animal acts.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) chief executive Jan Creamer said: "This is the culmination of over 10 years' hard work for ADI. We have conducted undercover investigations, filmed and gathered evidence.
"We are delighted that Defra has responded to the evidence we have presented and to the huge public support for a ban."
In a recent Mori poll, 65 per cent of the public wanted to see a ban on all circus animal acts, 80 per cent would ban "wild" animals and 90 per cent were against the whipping and beating of animals during training for entertainment.
ADI believes that this demonstrates that the Government has finally acknowledged that the use of animals in circuses fails the key test at the heart of the Animal Welfare Bill.
Mr Bradshaw today told MPs in a written Commons statement that: "I sympathise with the view that performances by some wild animals in travelling circuses are not compatible with meeting their welfare needs."
He said that he wanted more clarity in the law and intended to use a regulation to "ban the use in travelling circuses of certain non-domesticated species".
Mr Bradshaw added that individuals or organisations who train performing animals will be subject to inspection.
The ban will apply to travelling circuses only. Zoo performances, those in the audio-visual industry and in static circuses will not be affected. Defra says there are seven travelling circuses in Britain, three of which feature exotic animals.