Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

New Rules for Animal Circuses Across Europe


At last year’s CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) conference, new regulations for live travelling exhibitions were finally passed, introducing a ‘passport style’ system. ADI first pressed for this tightening up of the rules on circuses in 1997, after exposing a circus in Africa as an animal trafficking front. Now it is up to CITES member countries to enforce these regulations. European plans to implement the rules are initially disappointing.

Some provisions concerning the certificates for multiple imports and exports of live travelling exhibitions and personally owned live animals are a watered-down version of the CITES Resolutions; several of the conditions for travelling-exhibition certificates are not met in the draft EU Regulation. Also, the EU version does not contain the vital ban on the sale of an animal in a State other than the State where it is based and registered, and the provision that the specimen must be returned to the State where the exhibition is based. Further, no mention is made in the EU draft that the certificate is not transferable and must be returned if the animal dies or is otherwise lost.

ADI has pointed out that it is vital that before this system can be successful, unique, permanent and enforceable marking methods are in place that allow for an unmistakable identification of individuals. These marks must be recorded in the corresponding certificate like an individual “passport”. However, the provisions in the draft EU regulation do not lay down uniform marking methods, and some animals will be allowed to remain with their current (inadequate) mark. Marking of live animals with standardised microchips should be obligatory in order to obtain a travelling-exhibition certificate. Correspondingly, transfers should only be permitted at border controls that are technically equipped to read microchips electronically.

ADI has presented a detailed submission to the consultation process on the proposed EU regulation, and the Species Survival Network (SSN) a coalition of which ADI is a member, has also laid down objections.

© Animal Defenders International 2019