Regulations to introduce a licensing scheme for Animal Exhibits, such as mobile zoos and petting farms, have been introduced for consultation today by the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.
The draft Regulations aim to improve animal welfare and will provide powers for Local Authorities to inspect Animal Exhibits during exhibition, as well as any premises and travel equipment used.
As it stands, many Animal Exhibits are not subject to routine checks; a licensing scheme would improve welfare standards by introducing set licence conditions operators would have to meet to demonstrate their animals’ welfare needs were being met. They would also ensure processes were in place to protect the safety of those who interact with such exhibits.
Under the proposals, which are open to consultation from today (29 August) until 21 November, Animal Exhibits would be required to promote public education and raise awareness of the species as one of the conditions of holding a licence.
The new law would require Animal Exhibitors, once they have demonstrated their ability to meet the set licence conditions, to obtain a licence from their Local Authority before they could exhibit their animals. Licences would run for three years and be enforced by the Local Authority.
It is hoped the licensing scheme, which would apply to Animal Exhibits based in and visiting Wales, will ensure the next generation of children develop respectful and responsible attitudes towards animals.
It comes amid concerns Animal Exhibits may have a negative impact where animals are portrayed as commodities or toys instead of sentient beings.
In an effort to get young people to engage with the proposals a children and young people’s questionnaire has also been published to allow the next generation of animal owners to give their views.
Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:
“We hope this licensing scheme will play a crucial role in improving animal welfare standards and ensuring animals are kept, trained and exhibited appropriately.
“Animal Exhibits are a key part of the Welsh tourist industry and we believe this licensing scheme will not only promote the welfare of animals and protect the safety of people who observe these exhibits, but also prove we are a nation of animal lovers.
“The licensing scheme will ensure animals not only educate and inform the next generation, but also live a good quality of life in the process.
“We look forward to hearing people’s views and hope animals owners and lovers of all ages take part.”