10 November 2017
By Mary Bermingham
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D, has signed regulations that will ban the use of wild animals in circuses in Ireland
Commenting on the measure which will come into effect on January 1st 2018, Minister Creed said
“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. This is a progressive move, reflective of our commitment to animal welfare. I am of course allowing a modest lead in period to allow for alternative arrangements to be made for the animals in question.”
The Minister also welcomed the fact that over recent years Local Authorities had also been reflecting societal concern on this issue by not authorising public lands for the use of circuses where wild animals would be involved.
The Minister acknowledged that Circus owners and operators may have their regrets about this move, and that he appreciated their concern and care for the animals that have been part of their lives. However, the ability of a travelling circus to provide fully for all the needs of animals such as camels or tigers is no longer a tenable proposition.
The Circuses (Prohibition on Use of Wild Animals) Regulations 2017 are made under the Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013. The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 was a major piece of legislation that updated and replaced around forty pieces of primary legislation in the area of animal welfare and health, going back over 100 years including the 1911 Protection of Animals Act. The Animal Health & Welfare Act has been very well received both upon enactment and as it has been rolled out and implemented. All of the major animal welfare NGOs and stakeholders have seen it as a major and progressive improvement in the area.
Concluding, the Minister took the opportunity to wish Circus operators well for the future “While the retirement of the small numbers of wild animals in Irish circuses might seem like a loss I am confident that this move will do more to secure the future of the circus community. Coming in line with modern welfare standards will mean that greater numbers of the public will be more comfortable with going to the circus.”