Under the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, circus operators in England will no longer be able to use wild animals. The Government says the use of wild animals in travelling circuses has no place in modern society and does nothing to further the conservation or our understanding of wild animals.
Similar legislation has already passed in Scotland and is planned for Wales - meaning the popular UK-wide ban is within reach.
'No place for animals'
"Traveling circuses are no place for wild animals in the 21st century and I am pleased that this legislation will put an end to this practice for good," said Michael Gove.
"I am pleased that today's legislation will deliver on the ban that many welfare charities and parliamentarians have been calling for," added Animal Welfare Minister David Rutley.
"The general public can still enjoy a trip to the circus, but it is good to know that wild animals will no longer be a part of that experience."
This legislation has been a long time coming: a ban was first promised under a Labour Government in 2006. Since that time, repeated efforts by backbench MPs to bring in a ban through Private Member's Bills, supported have been thwarted by a handful of MPs.
"This legislation has been a long time coming and as successive UK governments have prevaricated, more than half of the world’s circus bans have passed," Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"After years of promises, and shocking scenes of suffering documented by Animal Defenders International, we cannot wait to see the day when wild animal circus acts are finally banned across the UK."
David Bowles, from the RSPCA, added: "We've campaigned against having wild animals in circuses for many years. They have complex needs that cannot be properly met in a circus environment. It's high time keeping wild animals in circuses is consigned to the history books and we look forward to the day that it is banned for good in England."