Slovakia is introducing a veterinary law amendment that will include the banning of wild animals in circuses by 2018.
According to Lonely Planet, the aim of this amendment is to protect endangered species, and more details regarding these species will be published in the upcoming year prior to the legislation coming into effect, which should be around January 2018.
“We don’t want to discriminate against circuses, we only want to protect the most endangered wild animals,” said Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matečná.
While there are no “native” animal circuses in this Eastern European country, many foreign circuses come to perform in Slovakian cities every year. The amendment would not ban the animals from entering the country, but would ban the restricted animals from performing in circuses. Circuses must also register with the State Veterinary and Food Administration of the Slovak Republic (ŠVPS), who will decide whether the circus will be allowed to enter the country or not.
Animal rights group Sloboda Zvierat (Freedom of Animals) has been pushing for this ban since 2012, having launched a billboard campaign in Slovakia. After all, many animals are tortured when learning tricks and are locked up in cages until showtime. The most popular tool is the bullhook, also known as the “elephant goad.”
“Species of wild animals that publicly perform tricks learned from humans and demonstrating atypical behavior not present in nature will be protected,” Vladimír Machalík, the head of the Agriculture Ministry’s press office, said.
The first European county to have banned wild animals from circuses was Greece, and other countries have followed its lead, including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Bolivia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Iran, Mexico, Peru, Croatia, Paraguay, Israel and the Netherlands amongst others.