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Written Statement - Mobile Animal Exhibits

Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs

In July, I launched a public consultation on the introduction of a licensing or registration scheme for Mobile Animal Exhibits (MAEs) in Wales.  

Animal welfare is a priority for the Welsh Government and it is clear to me from the responses received, it is also a priority for the people of Wales.

There is concern the welfare needs of some animals kept by MAEs, including circuses, cannot be met in a travelling environment. MAEs are diverse and there is no standard licensing regime or requirement for routine inspection. Examples of MAEs include travelling falconry and hawking displays, exotic pets taken into schools for educational purposes, reindeer at Christmas events and, of course, performing animals in circuses.  

The consultation, which closed on 8 October, sought views on the introduction of a licensing or registration scheme for MAEs in Wales. I also asked for views on banning the use of wild animals in circuses.

Almost 1,000 responses were received. 70 of these were comprehensive responses while the remainder only answered the question on banning the use of wild animals in circuses. This demonstrates the strong public feeling on this matter. A document summarising the responses to the consultation has been published today:  https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/mobile-animal-exhibits

The majority of respondents agreed there should be a licensing or registration regime for MAEs. The majority favoured licensing over registration. Respondents recognised the diverse nature of MAEs. Some were of the view the definition of MAEs provided in the consultation is too broad and certain MAEs, depending on their purpose, should be explicitly excluded from a licensing or registration regime.

Having considered responses to the consultation and the demand for change to the current system, I have tasked officials with the development of a licensing scheme for MAEs. This will not be done in isolation and will require engagement with stakeholders and enforcement agencies, as well as collaborative working with our counterparts in the other Administrations. This approach will deliver a scheme to have lasting impact on welfare standards, in keeping with the Welsh Government’s priority of promoting and improving animal health and welfare standards in Wales.  

The concerns and emerging themes this consultation has identified, will inform the development and implementation of the licencing regime, and there will be a strong focus on us engaging further to ensure we develop an accurate definition of MAEs.