Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs
Today, I am launching a 12 week public consultation on the introduction of a licensing or registration scheme for Mobile Animal Exhibits (MAEs).
Animal welfare is a priority for the Welsh Government. The way we treat animals is an important reflection of the values of our society. Animals should be protected from pain, injury, fear and distress at all stages of their life.
There is concern the welfare needs of some animals kept by MAEs, including circuses, cannot be met in a travelling environment. 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 wild animals in circuses.
MAEs are diverse and there is no standard licensing regime or requirement for routine inspection. We must decide whether or not a change of policy and/or the law is required in Wales to protect the welfare of animals in MAEs. A licensing or registration scheme could improve the welfare of animals in travelling environments and also legitimise the businesses operating as MAEs in Wales.
The consultation will also be asking for views on the banning of use of wild animals in circuses.
The responses to this public consultation, the first on this subject, will be used to inform next steps. As well as answering the consultation questions, I would encourage respondents to provide additional information, comments or evidence they may consider helpful. Young people will also be encouraged to share their views at the Royal Welsh Show 2017 by completing a short questionnaire.
Details of the consultation can be found on the Welsh Government website: www.wales.gov.uk