| Plan to ban wild animals in travelling circuses 'goes too far'|
|Government plans to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses go "too far", according to a committee of MPs scrutinising the proposed legislation.|
They say some species, such as camels and zebras, could be exempted from the ban. The move dismayed animal welfare campaigners, who said that all wild animals suffered from the conditions imposed by constant travelling.
High-profile incidences of abuse, such as the ill-treatment of performing elephant Anne by circus staff in 2011, had prompted the government to draft legislation to remove wild animals from circuses. The proposed bill, published in April, would outlaw the use of species not normally domesticated in the UK in travelling circuses after December 2015.
But Anne McIntosh, who chairs the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee which is scrutinising the draft legislation, said only some species should be included in the ban.
"We believe that there should be a ban on big cat species and elephants, but it is possible to argue that, for example, camels, zebra or snakes can continue to have a place in the travelling circus," she said.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) president Jan Creamer said the recommendations ignored animal welfare concerns and added that constant relocation created intolerable conditions for all species of wild animal.
"We welcome that the government has finally introduced a bill and we are delighted that they've done that, but we're very disappointed that Efra has decided to exclude other exotic animals and has been really restrictive in the animals that they've decided to protect," said Creamer.
"Efra has ignored that the key issue on the welfare of animals is the fact that they are constantly travelling and they're in a poor environment and in restricted space, and that goes for the camels, the zebras and other animals as much as for the elephants and lions and tigers," she said.
McIntosh said there did not appear to be any welfare grounds for a ban. She said animals such as zebras and camels that were still used in travelling circuses in the UK were regulated by strict licencing that would protect their welfare.
The recommendations will now return to the government to consider whether to amend the draft bill to create a prescribed list of banned species or retain the blanket ban in the initial proposal.