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5 October 2017, 05:52
Legislation to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses will be debated by MSPs at Holyrood on Thursday.
The Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill would make Scotland the first part of the UK to outlaw using any wild animal in a travelling circus.
Animal welfare campaigners are urging MSPs to back the Bill, introduced by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, in the stage-one debate.
Policy Advisor of animal charity OneKind, Libby Anderson said: "Only this week, the Estonian Parliament passed a Bill to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.
"Scotland has the chance to join dozens of states around the world in showing commitment to animal welfare by banning the use of wild animals in circuses.
"It is essential that MSPs support the Bill at this stage, allowing it to proceed for detailed consideration and amendments that will make it stronger."
Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International (ADI), said: "ADI calls on MSPs to rally behind the government bill and make Scotland the first nation in the UK to finally act on this issue."
Holyrood's Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee has warned in a report the legislation in its current form is "at risk of not fully addressing the issues it has been proposed to cover and capturing animal performances it had not intended to".
The committee agrees to the general principles of the Bill has said it will only achieve its aims if it implements a list of recommendations such as tightening the definition both of "circus" and "wild animal".
Previously, the committee heard from Nicola O'Brien of the Captive Animals' Protection Society who said the legislation is "grossly overdue".
However, Martin Burton, chairman of the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain, told the committee he believed the ethical basis of the ban would lead to closure of animal shows and displays, such as those in shopping centres, and eventually zoos.