Animals used as entertainment is a dying idea, and this is slowly but surely spreading around the globe. In the last week, Italy, Ireland, and India have all signed legislation banning the use of wild animals in circus performances.
First up was India, where the Central Zoo Authority of the ministry of environment, forests and climate change, who spent a year observing and monitoring circuses across the country, banned the training, exhibition, and use of elephants for performances.
India previously banned bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, and lions from being exhibited or trained as performing animals in 1998. Elephants, already protected under The Wildlife Protection Act, were exempt from this. However, this new review found multiple cases of animal cruelty using elephants in circus performances, so the ministry has not only included them but all wild animals, in the process deregistering several circuses under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Next up was Italy, which announced on Wednesday it had unanimously voted to ban all animals used in circuses and traveling shows, which will be phased out in the next year.
"Traveling from place to place, week after week, using temporary collapsible cages and pens, circuses simply cannot provide for the needs of the animals," said Jan Creamer, president of Animal Defenders International (ADI). "We applaud Italy and urge countries like the UK and the US to follow this example and end this cruelty."
According to ADI’s Stop Circus Suffering campaign, Italy has an estimated 100 circuses featuring around 2,000 animals, and this new ban encompasses all animals, wild and domestic.
Now Ireland has announced it will ban the practice of wild animals in circuses, with the Minister of Agriculture signing legislation yesterday that comes into effect January 2018, making it the 20th EU member and 42nd country to impose a ban.
“The use of wild animals for entertainment purposes in circuses can no longer be permitted. This is the general view of the public at large and a position I am happy to endorse,” the minister, Michael Creed, said.
Surprisingly, many countries still allow this practice, though. In the UK, the government drafted legislation back in 2013, but has given no indication of when it might be acted upon.
In the US, despite several cities and states, including Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco, enforcing their own bans on wild animals as “entertainment”, there is still no countrywide legislation.
Currently, a Republican and Democrat-backed bill, an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act called The Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act, has been proposed to restrict the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses and traveling performances.
Hopefully, other countries will take heed of this growing trend and follow suit.