FROM January 1, 2018, circuses in Ireland will no longer be able to use wild animals.
Michael Creed TD, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has signed regulations to implement the ban, saying it is no longer permissible to use animals for entertainment.
He stressed that the ability of a travelling circus to provide fully for the needs of animals such as camels or tigers is not a tenable proposition.
“The use of wild animals for entertainment purposes in circuses can no longer be permitted,” said Minister Creed.
“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 acknowledged that circus owners may not be happy with the decision, and appreciated their concern for the animals that have long been part of their lives.
But he added: “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.”
The move comes after both Italy and India took steps in the past two weeks to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.
'Chronically frustrated, stressed, and depressed'
Welcoming the news, Elisa Allen, Director of PETA said she hoped it would prompt other countries, including England, to follow Ireland's example.
"Bravo to Michael Creed for bringing Ireland in line with dozens of other countries including Austria, Belgium, Mexico, and the Netherlands and for showing that England is a poor cousin when it comes to the treatment of animals used in carnivals and circuses," said Allen.
"Our understanding of who animals such as elephants, zebras, and lions are is expanding, and we now know that a circus can never come close to meeting their complex needs.
"They are chronically frustrated, stressed, and depressed from a lifetime of being denied the opportunity to do anything that's natural and important to them, kept caged in trailers that are hauled around the country, and forced to perform confusing tricks under the big top in some Victorian era form of amusement.
"We hope this decision prompts other countries – such as England – to follow suit."