The MLA for South Antrim said his party didn’t believe the animals should be subjected to the conditions of circus life – which can involve regular transport; cramped, temporary housing; forced training and performance; loud noises and (pre-COVID) crowds of people.
The spokesperson on animal welfare said: “Wild animals performing in circuses has been banned in the rest of the UK and Ireland, and I have called for the Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to introduce a complete ban of wild animals used in circuses in Northern Ireland.
“Travelling circus life is likely to have a harmful effect on animal welfare as captive animals are unable to socialise, get enough exercise or exhibit natural behaviours. Many animals develop behavioural and/or health problems as a direct result of the captive life.
I was encouraged to receive a response from the Minister to state that he would “support the introduction of a ban here” and hope to see this implemented in the near future. I’ll be following progress on this to ensure it becomes a reality in Northern Ireland.”