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Image caption The bill would make it offence to use wild animals in travelling circuses

MSPs on a key Holyrood committee will begin later studying plans to ban circuses from using wild animals.

The Environment Committee will examine legislation to ban circuses from using any non-domesticated animal.

Following a government consultation, the committee will scrutinise the Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill.

The bill would make it an offence to use wild animals in travelling circuses.

The Scottish government announced the crackdown last September as part of its legislative programme following a public consultation which overwhelmingly supported a ban.

The government consultation in 2014 showed 98% respondents thought the use of wild animals for performance in travelling circuses should be banned and 96.4% thought the use of wild animals for exhibition (without performing) should be banned.

World first

Both aspects are covered in the bill, which makes Scotland the first country in the UK to introduce legislation outlawing wild-animal circuses.

Last week Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham unveiled the bill, which as well as prohibiting the use of any wild animal in a travelling circus on ethical grounds, also includes the power to enter premises and vehicles in order to search for and examine animals.

Convener of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee Graeme Dey MSP said: “We know that people feel very strongly about protecting wild animals in travelling circuses.

“In Scotland, the use of animals in circuses as a form of entertainment is somewhat of a rarity. In fact, such a travelling circus hasn’t visited Scotland for many years.

“However, if this bill is passed, it will make it an offence for circus operators to use wild animals in travelling circuses in Scotland.”

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