Brno, South Moravia, Feb 14 (CTK) – The taming and rearing of big cats no longer fulfils an educational purpose and should be banned without exceptions, Czech Association of Veterinarians for Wild and Zoo Animals (CAZWV) President Zdenek Knotek has said at a press briefing.
The CAZWV decided to organise the press briefing on Thursday because the Czech parliament is preparing an amendment to the animal protection law, to be debated soon.
According to the Circuses Together initiative, an organisation that brings together large Czech circuses, the CAZWV’s position is unfounded.
Circuses Together representatives reacted by saying that the CAZWV members should visit a circus and see for themselves.
The current law prevents using the young of primates, pinnipeds, cetaceans (except dolphins), rhinos, hippos and giraffes.
The new amendment widens the ban to elephants and dolphins, with big cats only allowed with a special license.
Knotek says it is crucial to ban big cats as well and is opposed to any licensing measure.
“That would mean some people would be able to get an exception, so that you would have to then hand it out to even more people,” Knotek said.
Members of the CAZWV said the debate surrounding the amendment was unstructured and sometimes aggressive, without any expert participation.
“That is why we entered the debate and we are glad we will be able to meet with the deputies and explain our stance to them,” Knotek said.
However, the Circuses Together initiative stated the CAZWV does not represent the stance of the Czech veterinarian community as a whole.
“For example the president of the much larger Czech Chamber of Veterinary Physicians issued a completely different statement in 2018, in which he supported circuses,” the initiative’s representative, Jaromir Pavlik, told CTK.
According to Pavlik, many veterinarians also admit they haven’t visited a circus for more than 20 years.
“How can they assess the situation objectively?” Pavlik asked.
According to Radka Kabrhelova, who performed checks of circuses for the regional veterinarian administration office for 14 years, there are roughly 40 circuses in the Czech Republic and not all of them have large animals.
Kabrhelova said a small number of circuses keep the animals in suboptimal conditions and since they ignore their duty to report such conditions, it is hard to keep an eye on them.