Use of wild animals in travelling circuses to be banned

The legislation will come into effect in 2018 after a new bill is lodged at Holyrood.

Animals: New legislation will be tabled at the Scottish Parliament (file pic). <strong>Creative Commons License</strong>
Animals: New legislation will be tabled at the Scottish Parliament (file pic). Creative Commons License

A ban on using wild animals in travelling circuses is among a series of new animal welfare measures confirmed by the Scottish Government.

The use of electric shock collars without approval by a trainer or vet will also be banned under new legislation.

Laws around tail docking, which is the shortening of dogs’ tails, will be changed for spaniels and hunt point retriever puppies.

Their tails will be allowed to be shortened if a vet believes they are likely to be for use as a working dog and risk serious tail injury in later life.

The bill banning the use of wild animals in travelling circuses will be introduced in May 2017 and will come into effect in 2018. The use of such circus animals is not currently banned in other parts of the UK.

It comes after concerns were raised about the welfare of five circus tigers and lions which were being kept at a farm in Aberdeenshire in 2014.

Campaigners said the big cats’ accommodation at the Circus High School animal training centre in St Combs was not up to standard.

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Scotland is a nation of animal lovers and we take the welfare of our pets, animals and livestock very seriously.

“We have consulted extensively on a number of issues and we will now improve our legislation by regulating the use of electronic training collars. 

“There is evidence that these devices can cause suffering so they will only be permitted for use as a last resort and under the guidance of an approved trainer or vet.

“Similarly, we have seen evidence that some working dogs are suffering tail injuries so I have decided to allow vets to shorten the tails of spaniel and hunt point retriever puppies where they believe it will prevent future injuries amongst working dogs.”

She added: “We will also ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, which is widely considered to be morally unacceptable in the present day, and undertake a full review of penalties under existing animal health and welfare legislation. 

“I believe this package of measures will improve the protection given to the welfare of animals in Scotland over the coming months and years.”

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