Finally, MPs move to ban circuses from using exotic animals: Only horses, dogs and rabbits will be allowed

Finally, MPs move to ban circuses from using exotic animals: Only horses, dogs and rabbits will be allowed
Move comes after shocking treatment of Anne the elephant
Two circuses have had requests to use wild animals rejected in past year

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The move was not binding, however, as it was based on a backbench motion from Tory MP Mark Pritchard. Animal rights campaigners have for years been urging the Government to impose the ban on the use of animals such as zebras, lions, tigers, snakes and crocodiles.

Bobby Roberts was convicted of animal cruelty over his treatment of Anne the elephant at his circus

Bobby Roberts was convicted of animal cruelty over his treatment of Anne the elephant at his circus

Ministers introduced a licensing system last year as an interim measure, with circus owners having to obtain permission from a government-sanctioned vet.

Two circuses have since applied to travel with wild animals, but both were denied a licence, which critics say shows the scheme was a costly mistake.

Animal welfare minister Lord de Mauley will today try to allay concerns with the publication of the draft bill.

A spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ‘We announced in March 2012 that it was our intention to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses and we are now working towards bringing in a Bill to achieve this.’

Jan Creamer, chief executive of Animal Defenders International (ADI), which sent activists undercover into circuses to expose the cruel treatment of animals, said: ‘A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses is long overdue.

‘There is no place in a civilised society for animals to be forced to endure a lifetime of cruelty and confinement for entertainment. We have found the public is overwhelmingly in support of a ban, as are politicians.’

She added: ‘Last year’s conviction of circus owner Bobby Roberts for the cruelty suffered by Anne the elephant horrified the world. The public has been crying out for a ban since ADI launched the Stop Circus Suffering campaign in 1992 with our first investigation of the suffering of circus animals.

‘Since then, the number of wild animal circuses has dropped from 20 to just two. The end to the use of these animals for entertainment is long overdue and the UK can join the 20 other countries with prohibitions on wild animal circuses.’

Happy: Anne now lives at Longleat Safari Park after the Mail campaign to give her a new home

Happy: Anne now lives at Longleat Safari Park after the Mail campaign to give her a new home

A survey showed 94.5 per cent of the public wanted an outright ban on wild animals in circuses.

Anne, aged 60 and Europe’s oldest elephant, is now living at Longleat safari park in Wiltshire after the Mail intervened to find her a new home.

Generous readers donated 340,000 for her upkeep, and she now lives in the old elephant house and has access to a paddock and a pool.

Anne the Elephant at Longleat Park

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