Skip to main content

Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Act 2020

The Wild Animals and Circuses (Wales) Act 2020 (‘the Act’) prohibits the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in Wales, and makes various amendments to the way circuses and dangerous wild animals are licensed.

The Act defines wild animals as ones that are not commonly domesticated in the British Islands (which means, for the purposes of this Act, the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). The aim is to protect the welfare of wild animals and prevent circuses from exploiting them by banning the use of animals such as elephants, tigers and lions in travelling circuses.

The offence would be committed by the person who is the operator (as defined in the Act) of the travelling circus if they use a wild animal as part of a performance or as an exhibit, or cause or permit another person to do so. A person guilty of such an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

The Act does not affect the use of domesticated animals in travelling circuses, nor does it prevent wild animals from being used for entertainment in other settings, including static circuses.

The Explanatory Notes to the Act provide detailed commentary on the various provisions.

Coming into force:

The Act came into force on 1 December 2020, in accordance with section 12.

Subordinate legislation made under the Act:

No subordinate legislation has been made under this Act.

Consideration of the legislation by the Senedd: 

The Bill was introduced by Lesley Griffiths MS (who was the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs at the time) on 8 July 2019 and passed by Senedd Cymru on 15 July 2020.

More information about the Bill is available on the Senedd’s website, including a record of the passage of the Bill through the Senedd and the Explanatory Memorandum that was prepared by the Welsh Government (on introduction of the Bill).

The Act received Royal Assent on 7 September 2020.

Published on
Last updated
02 August 2023