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Circuses in England will be banned from using wild animals in their shows from the beginning of December 2015

The Government has announced plans to bring in the ban for the UK to stop circuses using wild animals in their shows in two years time, from December 2015

Ministers were initially reluctant to bring in a blanket ban - demanded by many MPs and campaigners - in case of legal action by operators.

Agriculture minister David Heath said the two-year 'grace period' would allow circus owners to arrange suitable care.

There are currently 20 licensed wild animals working in circuses.

These include camels, zebras and snakes, but not elephants, monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees or big cats.

Under the terms of the draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill, the ban will cover any creature not normally domesticated in Britain.

The government has already introduced licensing regulations to improve conditions for performing animals until the law is changed.

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard, whose backbench motion in 2011 calling for a ban was passed without a vote in the Commons, said: 'I am delighted the government have finally decided to introduce a ban.

'This is a victory for animal welfare and common sense - and proves that politicians who have belief, stick to their principles, and persevere despite hostile opposition, can still shape events.'

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