TRAINSPOTTING star Robert Carlyle has spoken out along with nearly 8,000 campaigners in an attempt to keep wild animals such as tigers and bears out of circus rings in Scotland.
In a letter to the rural affairs minister Richard Lochead, the Bafta-winning Scottish actor said forcing animals to perform for humans was “obscene”.
Writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), Glasgow-born Carlyle said: “In the 21st century, it’s obscene for wild animals to be denied everything that is natural and important to them, confined to cages or boxcars and dragged around the country and forced to perform demeaning and often painful tricks for human amusement.
“It’s time that animal circuses joined bear-baiting and cock-fighting in the dustpan of antique abuses that no longer entertain us.” He finished by calling for Scotland to follow the example of countries such as Austria, Finland and Sweden in outlawing live animal acts.
Until recently there were four British travelling circuses using wild animals: the Great British Circus; Bobby Robert’s Super Circus; Peter Jolly’s Circus; and Circus Mondao. The precise number of wild animals used by them is not known but is believed to be under 50.
England, Scotland and Wales all have different regulations when it comes to beasts such as lions and tigers going on show in the big top. Since legislation regulating the use of wild animals came into force in England in January 2013, only two licences have so far been issued.
Though there are currently no live animal acts appearing around Scotland, the issue was brought to the fore last winter when animal welfare campaigners released footage of five big cats being kept in tiny cages in a windswept Aberdeenshire field.
A recent government consultation on the use of wild animals in travelling shows revealed 98 per cent of Scots believe it should be outlawed.
The latest move sees the actor, who also played lead roles in The Full Monty and Scottish TV police drama Hamish Macbeth, joining forces with fellow Scottish actor Dougray Scott and Sherlock star Martin Freeman in supporting Peta’s campaign. Yvonne Taylor, senior programmes manager for Peta, said Scottish ministers should “implement the will of the people and send circuses that use wild animals packing”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said animal welfare issues were taken seriously, but a ban would require legislation.
He added: “Richard Lochhead is considering the best way forward and will set out our plans in due course.”