We all know what the circus involves, right? Acrobats performing incredible feats of daring. Clowns sending up the human experience by spraying water at each other and falling over a lot. And, of course, lions, tigers and elephants performing tricks for people's amusement.
But that last spectacle is set to end on UK shores, as the government has pledged to ban wild animals from travelling circuses in the country by the year 2020.
Animal welfare activists have long been campaigning to end the practice, and after five years of wrangling, the UK will now enforce a ban as countries like Mexico have already done.
WATCH THIS SEGMENT ON MEXICO BANNING WILD CIRCUS ANIMALS:
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed that the ban will come into force on 19 January 2020 when current regulations expire, the Independent has reported.
The announcement was made at a review of those regulations - the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012 - which were introduced as a temporary measure ahead of a complete ban.
"The current Regulations expire on 19 January 2020. The Government does not intend to renew the Regulations as it intends to ensure that a legislative ban is introduced by then. The Regulations will then be allowed to expire," DEFRA's report reads.
The decision has been welcomed by animal rights activists, who argue that circuses regularly mistreat animals while they are held for people's amusement.
Just some of the malpractices that circuses are often accused of include beating and starving their animals, as well as keeping them in unsanitary conditions.
The president of campaigning group Animal Defenders International, Jan Creamer, praised the government for keeping the promise they made in 2012.
"Having campaigned to stop circus suffering around the world for over 20 years, we're delighted that a ban is finally imminent," Creamer said.
"Circuses cannot meet the needs of animals in small, mobile accommodation and ADI has repeatedly documented suffering and abuse.
"We congratulate the UK Government on consigning this outdated act to the past where it belongs."
Opinion polls have shown that people across the UK are overwhelmingly against circus acts featuring wild animals, with a high number of people wanting the shows to feature no animals at all.
Wild animal circus acts are opposed by the British Veterinary Association who argue that travelling circuses can't meet wild animals' welfare needs.
Ireland and Scotland have already passed similar bans on the practice, while Wales is now set to discuss its own ban.
Featured Image Credit: PA
Topics: UK News, News, Circus, Animals