Shropshire MP's delight at circus animal ban move

Shropshire MP Mark Pritchard today hailed as a "great result" the news that his long campaign to see wild animals banned from circuses could soon become law.

The Conservative MP for the Wrekin has campaigned for years to see an end to captive wild animals being used for entertainment in circuses.

He said he was thrilled with reports that suggested the Government now intended to include the Bill in the list of legislation when the Queen opens the new Parliament on June 4.

He said: "I am delighted that my Bill on ending the use of wild animals in circuses will be included in the Queen's Speech.

"It's a real result for everyone in Shropshire and throughout the country who have supported my endeavours."

Mr Pritchard has been at the forefront of a campaign to ban travelling circuses from using wild animals including tigers, lions and zebras, and the campaign has won wide support from both the public and animal welfare groups.

The issue was brought to public attention when secret filming of the treatment of an elephant in a circus was made public.

The film showed Anne, Britain's last circus elephant, being kicked and hit by her carer while she was chained in a barn in 2011.

There are just three travelling circuses in the UK licensed to keep wild animals, are it is estimated that there are 24 wild animals including tigers, lions, zebras and a raccoon still used.

One, Peter Jolly's circus, visited Telford in April and performed in a privately-owned field on the edge of Sutton Hill.

Telford & Wrekin Council, like many authorities across the country, does not allow circuses which use animals on council-owned land.

Last year, Shrewsbury Town Council relaxed its own ban so that shows involving animals deemed domesticated - such as horses and dogs - could be held in the Quarry Park.

Mr Pritchard hit the headlines in 2011 when he revealed in Parliament that he had been threatened by Government aides after refusing to drop the campaign.

He said he had initially been offered a "pretty trivial job" if he agreed either to drop a Commons motion calling for a ban, to amend it or not to press for a vote.

He said he had then been contacted again on the eve of the vote and "threatened".

In that debate, MPs defied the government and backed the ban.

Animal welfare groups claim that the "complex physical, behavioural and psychological needs of wild animals cannot be met in a circus environment".

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