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SPCA Calls To Ban Exotic Animals In Circuses

SPCA Calls For New Law To Ban Exotic Animals In Circuses

The Royal New Zealand SPCA wants a law passed to ban exotic animals from the circus ring.

The SPCA says it is disappointed that the government-appointed National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) does not see itself as able to recommend a ban under current legislation.

The Society wants Agriculture Minister, the Hon. Jim Sutton, to introduce an amendment to the 1999 Animal Welfare Act at an early opportunity in order to effect a ban.

The SPCA’s call follows the release today of the welfare code for circus animals. As “recommended best practice”, the code says that exotic species such as “lions, tigers, bears, elephants and large primates that require large living spaces and complex environments, should not be held in a circus.”

But NAWAC notes a legal ban on exotic species in circuses is outside the ambit of a welfare code, and would require a change to the Act. NAWAC acknowledges that it has received many submissions calling for a ban and that such bans exist in some other countries.

“Although we welcome NAWAC’s recommendation as to best practice, we are certainly disappointed that the committee has not felt able to recommend an immediate ban,” says the Royal New Zealand SPCA’s Acting Chief Executive, Jenny Prattley.

“For many years now, we have been observing how circuses operate. Our considered view is that exotic animals in circuses inevitably suffer from inadequate accommodation and living space, due to the transient nature of circus life. This is borne out in the new code where minimum space allowances for exotic animals are still totally inadequate.

“It’s also our view that circus training techniques cannot remove the need these large, intelligent animals have for complex, rich and spacious environments. A further consideration is that, if exotic animals escape from circuses, they are likely to endanger both themselves and the public,” she says.

Mrs Prattley adds that the use of animals in circuses is declining throughout the developed world, to some extent because of public misgivings as to how circus animals are treated. She notes that there is currently only one circus in New Zealand which has exotic animals.

“The huge international success of the Cirque du Soleil and other similar ventures demonstrates that you don’t need to exploit animals to provide memorable and spectacular family entertainment beneath the ‘Big Top’.

“We believe that legislation to end the use of exotic species in circuses would be in accordance with the views of a majority of New Zealanders. We hope that Mr Sutton will ensure a ban is introduced at an early date, “she says.

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