Tigers, lions, bears and other wild animals will be banned from circuses in Romania after the country’s parliament passed a bill on Tuesday in a move welcomed by animal rights groups.
Any animal “born in captivity or captured in the wild”, regardless of how tame they are, will not be allowed to be used in public shows, the bill states.
Circuses will have 18 months to comply with the law and transfer animals to reserves or zoos.
“No tiger, lion, bear or elephant will suffer any more in Romania for the amusement of people,” Magor Csibi, director of WWF Romania, said in a statement.
“Our society is evolving.”
President Klaus Iohannis must sign the bill into law before it comes into effect.
Circus owners could face criminal charges -- and a one year prison sentence -- if they fail to comply with the new rules.
Circuses will still be authorized to use some animals though, such as dolphins and exotic birds, in certain situations.
The decision in parliament comes after 11 animals, including two tigers, were killed in a fire in January at a building housing animals for Romania’s Globus Circus in Bucharest.
Following the incident, a public campaign to ban the use of trained animals in circuses -- which garnered more than 60,000 signatures -- also put pressure on the authorities to act.
Six EU countries have already implemented bans on circuses that use wild animals, while about 15 other countries have partial restrictions.