The RSPCA is calling for swift enactment of a ban after a travelling show using wild animals relabelled itself as an educational performance.
The Society has long been campaigning for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses and, if introduced, a draft Bill would make it an offence for any circus operator to use a wild animal in performance or exhibition in a travelling circus in England.
Now that one show has rebranded their performance as an educational event, RSPCA officials are calling for the ban to be enacted as quickly as possible to prevent big cats being hauled around the country in the name of entertainment.
RSPCA senior scientific officer Dr Ros Clubb said: “We are deeply concerned about the welfare of lions and tigers involved in this, or any other, travelling training display or show.
“We believe that many animal lovers could be duped into attending the show as they may be under the impression that this show helps the animals in some way when this is actually just a circus by another name. We strongly urge people to vote with their feet, and give this tour a miss.
“The impact of these travelling shows on animal welfare is serious and potentially debilitating for each and every animal involved. Animals are forced to endure the constant travel, cramped temporary cages and noisy conditions in that kind of environment.
“This show is the perfect example of why the ban on wild animals in circuses needs to be introduced quickly and the draft legislation also needs to clearly outline what a circus is.
“This show may be masquerading as an educational event but the simple fact is that it is still a circus and the way these animals are being kept will be exactly the same.
“There is nothing educational about seeing these animals in this kind of environment and there is no justification for keeping wild animals in this way.
“Shows like this will never be able to keep wild animals in a way that provides acceptable standards of welfare and placing an animal in surroundings unsuitable for the species can cause serious stress and behavioural problems.
“The circus is not the greatest show on earth, it is the saddest show on earth for the wild animals used and it is a practice that needs to be abolished.”
The RSPCA is urging people in England to contact their MP to help bring about a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses to help these long forgotten animals.