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Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Act 2018

Wild animals in travelling circuses: offence

5.Section 1 makes it an offence for circus operators to use, or to cause or permit another person to use, a wild animal in a travelling circus (see below on the meaning of “circus operator” and “travelling circus”). For the purposes of the Act, a wild animal is “used” if it is made to perform or is displayed or exhibited. The offence is committed whether or not payment of money is required to view the performance, exhibition or display.

6.“Performance” would include, but is not limited to, tricks or manoeuvres viewed by the public. The “exhibition” of a wild animal includes, but is not limited to, any proactive showing of animals to the public. “Display” includes, but is not limited to, use in parades or deliberate positioning of wild animals to facilitate or encourage viewing, for example in fields next to public rights of way in a manner calculated to promote the circus, for example next to a circus poster, or whilst dressed in their performance regalia.

7.A key criterion for an offence to have been committed, in relation to a travelling circus, is that the wild animal is transported, whether regularly or irregularly, from one place to another, where it is used in the travelling circus. It does not matter whether that transportation takes place along with the rest of the circus while it travels, or whether it takes place under separate arrangements that the travelling circus may have made. For example, the travelling circus may contract with an independent carrier to move its wild animals, or may arrange for wild animals it does not own to be transported to the various venues at which it gives performances. In either case, there may still be an offence if the animals are being transported for use, display, or performance in a travelling circus.

8.However, wild animals may continue to be kept and transported by travelling circuses whilst in Scotland under the Act, so long as they are not used (in performance, exhibition or display).

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Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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