Animal welfare organisation calls for an EU ban on wild animals in circuses
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Animal welfare organisation calls for an EU ban on wild animals in circuses

Credit: Unsplash/Becky Phan

Eurogroup for Animals launched today, on World Wildlife Day, the “EU Stop Circus Suffering” campaign, calling for an EU Ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. A new opinion poll confirms that a ban is supported by a majority of Europeans.

The UN World Wildlife Day on 3 March was proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly in 2013 to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.

This year the day is celebrated under the theme “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet” as a way to highlight the central role of forests, forest species and ecosystems services in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, and particularly of Indigenous and local communities with historic ties to forested and forest-adjacent areas.

A majority of EU member states have already adopted national legislation restricting the use of either all, or exclusively wild, animals in circuses, reflecting the public’s position on ethical and animal welfare grounds.  However, France, Germany, Italy and Spain don’t have any national restrictions and Czech Republic, Finland and Hungary only adopted restrictions on the use of some species of wild animals.

Currently, the EU only regulates health controls for the movement of circus animals, through a Commission Regulation (1739/2005) laying down animal health requirements for the movement of circus animals between member States.

However, according to Eurogroup for Animals, studies demonstrate that controls for health or trade and possession of wild animals in circuses are extremely difficult to exercise, as circuses move all the time, changing names and exchanging animals. Wild animals such as elephants, lions, tigers, hippos, monkeys, zebras, giraffes, bears, parrots and reptiles are shown and used in circuses.

The opinion poll commissioned by the animal welfare organisation is based on interviews of citizens in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain.

The main results show that 68 % of the respondents agree that the use of wild animals in circuses is cruel and wild animals should not be used for public entertainment. 83 % agree that the EU European should ban the use of all wild animals in circuses. Only 20 % agreed that circuses showing wild animals is educational

“Only an EU wide ban can guarantee the end of this outdated entertainment and provide a coherent and effective solution to the physical and emotional suffering of wild animals in circuses,” commented  Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals.

“The Commission should take the wishes of EU citizens very seriously and use their powers to finally end this unnecessary suffering while confirming the EU as the International leader for animal welfare,” she added.   Nearly 1 million citizens have already signed the Infocircus petition, with the “Stop Circus Suffering” campaign.

The Brussels Times