RSPCA Cymru is hailing a "momentous day for animal welfare" as the Welsh Government confirms a bill has been laid which will ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

The animal welfare charity has long led the campaign in Wales to end the spectre of wild animals being carted around with travelling circuses.

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said today that the "introduction of this bill sends a clear message this Government and the people of Wales believe this practice to be outdated and ethically unacceptable".

The transient nature of circuses - alongside cramped accommodation and forced training for animals - highlights how inappropriate these settings are for wild animals. RSPCA Cymru has fought for many, many years to see this practice brought to an end - and is now urging Assembly Members to back this bill and ensure a ban is in place as soon as possible.

RSPCA Cymru assistant director for external relations, Claire Lawson said: “This is a momentous day for animal welfare in Wales, and delivers another strong statement as to how society should treat our fellow living creatures.

"We’re absolutely delighted the Welsh Government has brought this bill forward, which follows tireless campaigning from RSPCA Cymru and others in the animal welfare world.

“The keeping of wild animals in travelling circuses is an outdated practice that clearly compromises animal welfare. The transient nature of circuses – alongside cramped accommodation and forced training for animals – highlights how inappropriate these settings are and clearly they have no place in modern Wales.

“We're so grateful to the people across Wales who have backed this campaign. We've seen a real groundswell of opinion across Wales for a ban, and it's great the Welsh Government have taken that on board and acted for these animals.

“RSPCA Cymru now urges all political groupings within the National Assembly for Wales to back the ban, and ensure this out-dated and cruel practice is consigned to the history books in Wales as soon as possible."

A video has today been launched, coinciding with the Minister's announcement, which emphasises the longevity of the RSPCA's campaign, and the importance of the public's support.

Approximately 9,000 backed an RSPCA Cymru petition calling for action.

The charity has held street stalls and events across Wales, and hundreds of supporter emails have been sent directly to the responsible Minister backing a ban, as part of a wide-ranging public campaign.

Chris Wainwright, RSPCA deputy chief executive, added: "This bill sends a powerful statement about how we should treat animals in modern, compassionate Wales.

"It follows tireless campaigning from RSPCA Cymru - with huge resources placed at this campaign to ensure wild animals no longer face the hugely inappropriate conditions of out-dated travelling circuses.

"The public's consistent backing for this campaign has been so important, and has helped us send a clear message that wild animals in circuses have no place in Wales.

"We're delighted that today this vision is a step nearer, and we look forward to working with Assembly Members to get a robust ban on this practice into force."