Government established laws in Portugal which immediately ban the use of great apes in circuses and lay grounds for the end of the use of wild animals in circuses.
Following years of education, awareness-raising, campaigning and lobbying work carried out by ANIMAL, it finally happened. Since September 3rd, based on a new law-decree established by the Portuguese Government, circuses operating in Portugal can no longer keep or use great apes – chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos. The use of these animals is also forbidden in any other spectacles.

Another legislative decision of the Portuguese Government went further: it banned the keeping and use of wild animals in circuses, such as elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions, tigers, bears, primates, reptiles, ostriches, among others. However, there is a regrettable exception: the wild animals that the Portuguese circuses already legally held when this new bill came into force will still be allowed to be kept and used in circus shows, but the circus companies are now legally forced to prevent those animals from breeding and can no longer acquire any new wild animals. The circuses have 90 days to register all their wild animals with the Portuguese CITES authority – and those will be the only wild animals that they will ever again be allowed to keep and use. This new bill means that the renovation of the populations of animals kept and used in Portuguese circuses is banned.

While Portuguese circuses are now extremely nervous, saying that this means the end of circuses, and have joined the European Circus Association in making preparations to file a law suit with the European Commission against the Portuguese State, alleging that this new law infringes the article 49 of the European Treaty, supposedly violating the free internal market of the EU, ANIMAL has congratulated the Portuguese Government for taking these measures and has only regretted that these will not affect the wild animals (aside from the great apes) which are already kept in circuses and it has also regretted that these legislative measures leave domesticated animals away from its application. That is why ANIMAL will continue to call the Portuguese Parliament to take these measures one step further, by totally and immediately banning the keeping and use of both wild and domesticated animals in circuses.

OIPA and OIPA Portugal welcome the new laws in Portugal and they urge the European Commission and the European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, to respect, support and recognize as positive and a good example for the EU to follow the legislative measures took by the Portuguese Government.

Animals do not voluntarily ride bicycles, stand on their heads, or jump through rings of fire. They don’t perform these and other difficult tricks because they want to; they perform because they’re afraid not to. Because of concerns about animal mistreatment and public safety, a growing number of communities are banning or restricting the use of animals in circuses. We remember that Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland, and Singapore have all banned or restricted the use of animals in entertainment.

Paola Ghidotti
OIPA International Campaigns Director