A CIRCUS that visits Hereford has been granted one of the first UK Government licences allowing it to officially include wild animals in its shows.

Circus Mondao, which visited Hereford Racecourse last year, has been granted the licence by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The licence is issued under the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012, which came into force earlier this year.

A year ago, the Government had set out its approach for the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England.

It confirmed that it intends to pursue a ban on the use of such animals on ethical grounds.

Defra will publish draft legislation on the ban on wild animals in travelling circuses for scrutiny before legislation.

In the meantime, the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012 established a licensing scheme to protect the welfare of wild animals before any such ban can take effect.

Government veterinary specialists have made rigorous checks on Circus Mondao, which is a member of the Classical Circus Association (CCA), over the past two years and further inspections have been carried out since November.

Circus Mondao was found to be in complete compliance with the regulations, with no welfare problems reported. The new licences – understood to be for two zebra, two camels and two reindeer – were issued last week for one year, and a further regime of inspections will ensure continued compliance.

The aim of the CCA is to ensure members whichwork with animals practice, promote and maintain the highest possible animal welfare standards.

Following last year’s visit, Petra Jackson of Circus Mondao wrote to the Hereford Times to thank visitors for the welcome the company received in the city when it brought its animals.