TRAINSPOTTING star Robert Carlyle has called on the government to ban wild animals from circus rings in Scotland.
The 54-year-old actor has joined 8,000 other campaigners demanding that the government ban animals such as bears and tigers from performances in the country.
In a letter addressed to rural affairs minister Richard Lochead the Glasgow-born actor called the practice “obscene”, “demeaning” and “painful.”
Although there are currently no circuses currently performing with wild animals in Scotland the practice remains legal with the proper licensing.
Footage released last year by animal rights activists revealed three tigers and two lions who had spent the summer touring with Peter Jolly’s Circus kept in cages on an Aberdeenshire croft for the winter.
Although animal charities claimed their living conditions were “a national disgrace” council officials confirmed that they complied with current Scottish regulations.
Now, writing as a representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Carlyle said:“In the 21st century, it’s obscene for wild animals to be denied everything that is natural and important to them, confined to cages or boxcars and dragged around the country and forced to perform demeaning and often painful tricks for human amusement.
“It’s time that animal circuses joined bear-baiting and cock-fighting in the dustpan of antique abuses that no longer entertain us.”
The actor – who recently released his own directorial debut – called on Scotland to follow in the footsteps of countries including Austria, Finland and Sweden by outlawing live animal performances.
Until recently there were four British travelling circuses using wild animals – touring with around 50 performing animals.
England, Scotland and Wales all have different legislation regarding the use of wild animals – but the practice is still legal across Great Britain with the appropriate licences..
But recent government research into the subject revealed that 98 per cent of the Scottish population would back a ban of wild animals in circuses.
The actor – who took a starring role in The Full Monty and The World Is Not Enough – joins a host of other celebrities backing the campaign.
Dougray Scott, star of TV series Desperate Housewives, and Martin Freeman, who stars in the hit BBC series Sherlock, have also backed the campaign.
A Scottish government spokesman said that issues of animal welfare were taken seriously – but a ban would require new legislation.
He added: “Richard Lochead is considering the best way forward and will set out our plans in due course.”