Latvian parliament shoots down proposal to allow circus shows with captive-born animals

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-12 00:54:59|Editor: yan
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RIGA, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Latvian lawmakers on Thursday shot down an opposition MP's proposal to allow circus shows with captive-born animals that had caused outrage among animal rights activists and the wider public.

As the parliament held the second reading of a bill banning animals in circus performances, opponents of the proposal argued that lifelong torture of animals was the unacceptable price that had to be paid for such entertainment for humans and that it had to be outlawed.

Defending her proposal, MP Julija Stepanenko of the leftist Harmony party claimed that the handlers training animals for circus shows were even better animal experts than veterinarians.

"Let's not censure circus programs, it is not the parliament's duty," the MP said.

Meanwhile, a crowd of animal rights activists staged a picket by the parliament building, demanding a full ban on animals in circus that would include animals born both in captivity and in the wild. Previously, the parliament economic, agricultural, environmental and regional policy committee had endorsed Stepanenko's proposal as a compromise solution.

"The regulation must not allow for any exceptions," MP Ingmars Lidaka, a biologist by profession and rapporteur in charge of the draft amendments to the Animal Protection Law, told the parliament, stressing that circus companies cannot ensure appropriate life conditions to their animals.

The ban on animals in circus, which was initiated by the Latvian Food and Veterinary Service in 2015, is strongly supported by Latvia's animal rights groups like Animal Freedom whose online petition "For Humane Circus" gathered more than 26,000 signatures and was submitted to the parliament.

The parliament has yet to hold the final reading of the bill, which is expected to come into effect on July 1, 2017.