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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 March 2006, 00:52 GMT
Circus ban call for wild animals
Elephant at a circus
The proposal will be debated by MSPs in the next few weeks
A bid is being launched to stop wild animals from performing in circuses.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said the tradition of creatures such as lions and elephants being used in travelling circuses was a "medieval practice".

He has proposed an amendment to the Animal Health and Welfare Bill which is going through the Scottish Parliament and is hopeful that MSPs will back it.

The news comes after Animal Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw announced plans for such a move south of the border.

Over 80% of people want to see wild animals banned from circuses and this bill is the right opportunity to deliver that
Mark Ruskell MSP

The amendment is expected to be debated by MSPs on the environment and rural development committee in the next few weeks.

Mr Ruskell, the Greens' environment spokesman and the committee's deputy convener, said it was time for Scotland to follow England's lead.

The MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife said: "It is impossible to give wild animals that evolved on the plains of Africa acceptable welfare conditions under cramped circus conditions.

"The training and performing of wild animals in circuses is a medieval practice that is thankfully going to be banned in England and Wales."

An opinion poll carried out last year showed that 80% of the public was against wild animals being used in circus shows.

'Suitable regulation'

Mr Ruskell added: "There is a case for domestic animals to continue to play a role in circuses with suitable regulation, but over 80% of people want to see wild animals banned and this bill is the right opportunity to deliver that."

The bill already contains measures which will outlaw the docking of dogs' tails and ban the filming of animal fighting.

It also proposes to give ministers increased slaughter powers in the event of an animal disease outbreak.

MSPs have unanimously endorsed the general principles of the bill and will begin considering various amendments to it this week.

On Wednesday, Mr Bradshaw announced plans to ban certain wild animals from performing in travelling circuses as part of the separate Animal Welfare Bill which is going through Westminster.

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