Circus season is currently in full swing in the Czech Republic; here in the capital, traveling circus caravans pop up around the city in the autumn months, offering old-fashioned entertainment and exotic performances under the big top.
While circuses liked the famed Original Berousek National Circus seemingly promise wholesome family fun, they’re also a source of great controversy, frequently protested by activists who say they exploit animals.
In a reaction to the intensifying protests against circus animals, the Czech Ministry of Agriculture, in the framework of the amendment to the Animal Welfare Act, has proposed a total ban on animal dressage, the practice of training animals to perform elaborate routines.
The amendment has undergone inter-ministerial commentary and is currently in review by the Ministry. Upon their decision, a transitional period and specific conditions for the ban on animals in circuses is expected to be established.
Min. zemědělství v rámci novely zákona na ochranu zvířat proti týrání navrhuje úplný zákaz vystupování a drezury zvířat v cirkusech. Po vypořádání připomínek z meziresortu bude stanoveno přechodné období a konkrétní podmínky zákazu. https://t.co/JBV2w76u00 pic.twitter.com/1ChaMbuiT8
— Zemědělství ČR (@MZeCr) October 19, 2018
The Ministry of Agriculture, in the past, has banned dressage for newly born primates, pinnipeds, cetaceans, rhinoceroses, hippos, and giraffes. It now wants to extend the restrictions.
A ban similar to that proposed by Czech officials is currently enforced in dozens of EU countries.
“In Europe, the dressing of all animals in circuses is forbidden, for example, in Italy, the Netherlands, or Greece. In other countries, such as Germany or Poland, the ban is intensively debated,” said Vojtěch Bílý, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, in a press release.
Commenting on the proposed measure, Jiří Berousek, director of the National Circus Berousek told iDnes.cz, “I think it is absolute nonsense.”
“The Czech Republic has already issued a regulation on the protection of animals, the observance of which costs us a lot of money. If we meet all the standards, I see no reason to restrict it. Our animals live a full life,” he added.
Together with other circuses, Berousek will protest against the proposed ban. “We will fight to prevent this from happening in Mexico, where a similar ban has led to the killing of several hundred circus animals,” he said.
According to the website Czech Circuses, there are 17 circuses operating in the Czech Republic.