Will animal welfare bill spell end of traditional Czech circuses?

Jo-Joo circus

The mammoth task of bringing Czech law into line with that of the European Union has led to many changes, and grumbles from some people who don't like to see their traditions being eroded. Recently the government rubber-stamped an amendment on animal welfare, which opponents say could spell the end of traditional Czech circuses if approved by parliament.

If the amendment is passed, it will only be legal for circuses to breed and train animals which are regarded as farm animals in the countries they come from, such as Indian elephants. Circuses would not be allowed to show animals which have not been adapted' by man, as Jiri Vyska of the Jo-Joo circus explains.

Jiri Vyska and representatives of other circuses are preparing a detailed argument against the proposed amendment, which they will send to the ministry of agriculture and the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies. With the days of the traditional circus evidently numbered, I asked Mr Vyska how long the tradition had existed.

As animal rights has become a bigger issue in recent decades, the trend in Europe has been towards circuses without animals. How likely is it that circuses in this country will manage to resist that trend?

"I'd like to quote the director of the Jo-Joo circus, who said the first world war didn't destroy us, the second world war didn't destroy us, the communists didn't destroy uswhy would democracy and accession to the EU destroy us? I believe in twenty years time Czech circuses will still have a full range of animals."