March 5, 2018

RSPCA Cymru has long campaigned for an end to the use of wild animals in circuses and has welcomed the Welsh Government’s confirmation that they intend to ban wild animals being used in circuses in Wales, as well as bringing in a licensing system for Mobile Animal Exhibits (MAEs), including reindeer Christmas events and travelling circuses.

A YouGov Poll for RSPCA Cymru found that 74 percent of the public in Wales support a ban on wild animals performing in circuses in Wales*.

Based on scientific evidence which clearly demonstrates that life within a travelling circus is likely to have harmful effects on an animal’s welfare, the RSPCA has called for years for this practice to be banned. Regular transport, cramped housing, forced training and loud noises often prove an unavoidable reality for wild animals based within a circus setting.

RSPCA Cymru firmly believes, that due to the impact on animal welfare and the suffering caused to wild animals being used in circuses, that a ban can be brought in under Section 12 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, crucially saving parliamentary time.


The Welsh Government had previously indicated a preference for the UK Government to legislate on Wales’ behalf on this issue. Given this, RSPCA Cymru is bitterly disappointed that an anticipated legislation was not passed in the 2010-2015 UK Parliament. However, this did lead to a licensing system for circuses in England only.

In 2015 our petition to the Petitions Committee gained more than 7,700 signatures. This called on the Welsh Government to ensure that legislation is brought forward to ensure wild animals in Wales are no longer allowed to suffer within the circus environment.

The Welsh Government subsequently commissioned a review to look into the evidence for a ban and in July 2017 launched a consultation on the subject, including regulation of other Mobile Animal Exhibits (MAEs).

RSPCA Cymru’s campaign encouraged supporters to urge the Welsh Government to take action and over 500 supporters emailed the Welsh Government urging them to support licensing of Mobile Animal Exhibits and to end the practise of wild animals in circuses.  Our consultation response can be found here.

On February 14th 2018, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM, stated that the Welsh Government was “exploring opportunities to bring forward legislation to ban the use of wild animals in circuses in Wales.”


*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,036 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th–22nd August 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Welsh adults (aged 18+)