As a restless soul I’ve always wanted to see more change for animals more quickly but at the same time I’ve learnt in my career that a tide of small changes can often have more impact than a single large one.
Changing the way society sees and treats animals takes time and isn’t a smooth road. It is a road, however, that IFAW is committed to travel.
Today the Welsh Assembly passed the Wild Animals in Circuses (Wales) Bill, banning the use of such animals in these attractions.
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said: “This Bill will address the ethical concerns of people across Wales by banning the use of wild animals in travelling circuses.
“The use of wild animals for entertainment in this way is outdated - wild animals are sentient beings with complex needs, and they should not be seen as commodities for our entertainment.”
This sums up the issue well. A long-held tradition of having exotic animals in travelling circuses now ends in one part of the Union. Many animal welfare groups have campaigned long and hard on this issue and they rightly deserve to enjoy this moment and feel like they have made real progress for animals.
In recent years we have seen many positive changes for animals in UK legislation. IFAW has been intrinsically involved in much of this. From lobbying for our domestic ivory ban to leading on the achievement of Finn’s Law to protect service animals in England and Scotland, as well as campaigning for the ban on seal shooting in Scotland.
At IFAW, while the successes are progress, we don’t choose to sit still. There is little time to pop champagne corks and celebrate because there is still so much to do. An example of this is the current Animal Welfare Sentencing Bill which has fallen at the final hurdle several times in the last few years. This should be seen as an easy win for the Government; it upsets no-one other than criminals and it would send a clear message to those who want to harm or mistreat animals that they would face up to five years in jail. It is a necessary piece of legislation that we will continue to work to push through Parliament.
Thus, IFAW is also a restless soul and we will remain so, seeking legislation to ensure that the UK is a safer place for animals.