MORE than 7,500 people have signed a petition to urge the Welsh Government to introduce a long-awaited ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.

The animal welfare charity has long pushed for a complete ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. The power to introduce a ban lies with the National Assembly for Wales.

Today, the National Assembly for Wales' Petitions Committee will discuss the petition which was recently handed to committee chair, William Powell AM, by RSPCA Cymru’s political campaigns manager Martin Fidler Jones and RSPCA Cymru board chair and RSPCA council member Paul Baxter.

The charity believes the needs of wild animals can 'never be adequately met in a circus environment and regular transport, cramped and bare temporary housing, forced training and performance are all unavoidable realities for the animals'.

In 2013 the Welsh Government indicated they would allow the ban then being considered by the UK Government to extend to Wales.

However the UK Government subsequently failed to pass such legislation before Parliament was dissolved in May before the recent election.

Mr Fidler Jones said: “Over the past few months - since we launched this campaign in May - we have received an overwhelming amount of support from members of the public.

“Many have been surprised to learn that wild animals were still being used in circuses in modern Wales.

“We’ve been campaigning for a complete end to the use of wild animals in circuses for over a decade - and we just now hope that the Welsh Government acknowledges the mandate given to it by the public - by legislating themselves on this issue.

“The Welsh public have been waiting long enough. The mandate from our petition is unequivocal and polling* suggests the public are overwhelmingly in support of a ban - it is now time for the Welsh Government to bring forward their own proposals so the use of this outdated practice in circuses touring Wales is finally brought to an end.”

A number of local councils have already done their bit, passing resolutions and guidance that refuse circuses travelling with wild animals permission to use local authority land. Although this is a step in the right direction, circuses that use wild animals can still use private land, therefore RSPCA Cymru is campaigning for an overall ban in Wales.