Romania just joined a growing list of countries where wildlife animals are banned from circuses, a decision which was hailed by the international community and conservationists worldwide.

This is encouraging progress, but there is still much more work to be done if we want to end the inhumane treatment of circus animals. Image credits: Usien / WikiCommons.

Tigers, lions, bears, and every other wild animal, regardless how tame they are, whether born in the wild or in captivity, will now be banned from circus shows throughout the country. However, some unwelcome additions to the law have managed to sneak in, allowing circuses to use dogs, horses, dolphins, and some exotic birds. Late 2016, Romania also issued a ban on trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynxes, and big cats

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Circuses have 18 months to comply with the law and transfer animals to reserves or zoos, or they face criminal charges and a one-year prison sentence. The law passed through Parliament and it still technically has to be signed by President Klaus Iohannis — though there is no doubt that this will happen as he has been a supporter of the law.

“No tiger, lion, bear or elephant will suffer any more in Romania for the amusement of people,” Magor Csibi, director of WWF Romania, said in a statement. “Our society is evolving.”

Unfortunately, it took a tragedy for Romania to pass this law: 11 animals, including two tigers, were killed in a fire in January at an animal housing building in Bucharest. This raised a lot of awareness regarding the inhumane conditions circus animals are forced to live and prompted a petition which gathered over 60,000 signatures. Romania, which hosts almost 20 million residents, passed the law less than six months after that, entering a rather short list of countries which have passed such bans.

  • Four countries have a full ban on circus animals: Cyprus, Greece, Malta, and Bolivia.
  • Fourteen more have a full ban on wild circus animals: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Singapore, Israel, and Mexico.
  • Three countries have bans on most wild animals in circuses: Belgium, Bulgaria, and The Netherlands. This is where Romania would fit in.
  • The Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Portugal, Sweden, and India have a ban on some wild animals.
  • Ecuador has a ban on native wild animals.
  • Estonia, Hungary, and Poland have a ban on wild-born animals.
  • Some local restrictions exist in Ireland, Norway, Spain, UK, USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Australia.

Notably, the US, the UK, and France are at the very bottom of the list when it comes to enforcing circus animal rights.