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Written Statement - The Use of Wild Animals in Circuses

Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food

The Welsh Government has concerns about the use of wild animals in circuses and despite previous commitments from Defra to take forward primary legislation to ban this practise, and numerous promises from the Secretary of State, it was unclear that the UK Government had any appetite for action. 

In considering how to take this matter forward separately in Wales, I commissioned Professor Stephen Harris, 2nd Lord Dulverton Memorial Professor of Environmental Sciences at Bristol University, to undertake an independent review on the worldwide evidence of animal welfare, both physical and mental, of wild and/or non-domesticated animals in travelling and non-travelling circuses. He also considered the environmental enrichment of such animals and their behaviours. 

A draft of that report has been received by officials. The findings are wide-ranging and it is important that due consideration is given to the evidence gathered. I have tasked the Chief Veterinary Officer to consider the final report when it is available and to seek advice from the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group and other Expert Groups. This will enable advice to be presented to the incoming Government in due course. 

I am thankful to Professor Harris and his team and all who have been engaging in this process.

I have also previously agreed that Welsh Government officials should continue their discussions with the Welsh Local Government Association, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, police and Local Authorities to map out a cohesive, Wales-wide approach to monitoring public safety and animal health and welfare standards in travelling circuses.  That work is ongoing with a view to all local authorities and enforcement agencies in Wales having a single reference document and check list for their use.