Moves to protect animals in settings like falconry displays, mobile petting zoos and Christmas reindeer events have been backed by RSPCA Cymru.
The charity is urging the Welsh Government to proceed with new regulations, which would mean so-called Mobile Animal Exhibits (MAEs) would require a licence to operate, or need to formally register.
Plans are subject to a Welsh Government consultation – which would pave the way for MAEs needing to comply with key animal welfare standards – something warmly welcomed by RSPCA Cymru.
Currently, the RSPCA feel “insufficient safeguards” exist for animals based in such settings – and “a worrying lack of information” is available about the numbers of touring display animals across Wales.
RSPCA’s senior scientific manager, specialising in captive wild animals, Ros Clubb said:
“Every week, many animals travel around the country to be petted by the public, used in educational settings, or for entertainment.
However, for too long, there have been insufficient safeguards in place to meet the specific welfare needs of these animals, given the very distinct, and sometimes challenging, lives they lead.
There’s also a worrying lack of information available as to the numbers of animals who spend their lives in Mobile Animal Exhibits.
Welsh Government plans to support the welfare of these animals will provide vital protection, and ensure a huge step forward for Wales when it comes to these touring and display animals. This will also offer the public assurances about the way countless animals are treated and kept.
RSPCA Cymru is urging those in Wales who care about animal welfare to let the Welsh Government know that regulating MAEs deserves a big thumbs up. This is a great opportunity – and we need the public to make sure their voice is heard loud and clear.”
The charity believe that wild animals carted across the country in circuses provide a clear example of a mobile exhibit where the needs of animals cannot be met.
It is hoped new regulation would be stringent enough to ensure circus shows with touring wild animals are – finally – “consigned to the history books”.
Dr Clubb added:
“For RSPCA Cymru, and the 9,000 people who’ve signed our petition, the time has also come to end the horribly outdated practice of wild animals being kept in circuses.
“Regular transport, cramped accommodation, forced training and performance are all unavoidable realities for wild animals in the circus.
“An independent review for the Welsh Government clearly demonstrated that travelling circus life for wild animals is not a life worth living – and we want to see the sight of circus animals being carted around Wales in hugely inappropriate conditions consigned to the history books.”
Members of the public can take action, and respond to the Welsh Government’s consultation, via the RSPCA’s website.