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In July 2022, the Basque Country has become the 12th of the 17 Autonomous Regions of Spain that have banned circuses with wild animals. The Bill passed with the support of the majority of political parties (the PNV, Socialist Party of Euskadi, EH Bildu and PP + Cs). The coalition InfoCircos, formed by the animal protection organisations ANDA, AnimaNaturalis, Born Free Foundation, FAADA, and AAP Primadomus, has been lobbying the Basque Government since 2016 pushing for this ban.

In addition to the 12 Autonomous Regions that have already banned the use of such animals in these spectacles, many municipalities in those that have not done it yet have declared themselves “free from circuses with wild animals”. The capital of the Basque Country, Bilbao, already banned wild animals in circuses in 2018. The European Veterinary Federation (FVE) and the General Council of Veterinary Colleges of Spain have stated that the presence of wild animals in circuses causes animal suffering, endangers public safety, and puts the animals’ health at risk. 

Aïda Gascón, director of AnimaNaturalis in Spain, said, “There are only five Autonomous Communities that have not banned circuses with animals in Spain. We are sure that very soon this country will be at the forefront of European states that have left travelling shows with animals as something of the past.” Marta Merchán, the coordinator of InfoCircos, said, “The prohibition on the use of wild animals in circus shows that this is something on which there is broad consensus, not only at the social level but, as is being seen in most communities and municipalities, from almost all political formations.”

Animals from the circus industries can be taken to sanctuaries. Some of these are already in Spain, so it would be easy to transport them there. For instance, most of the big cats (80%) at the rescue centre for wild animals of AAP Primadomus in Villena (Alicante, Spain) come from circuses or breeders linked to circuses.