A NEW government bill making it illegal for circuses to use wild animals in their performances has been announced.

Speaking today, Michael Gove announced that the ban would come into force in January 2020, saying there is "no place" for the practice in modern travelling circuses.

"Today’s announcement follows other measures we have taken to strengthen our position as a world leader on animal protection," the environment secretary said. "This includes our ban on ivory sales to protect elephants, and delivering Finn’s Law to strengthen the protection of service animals."

David Bowles is head of public affairs at the RSPCA and celebrated the end of the "outdated" practice.

He said: “We’ve campaigned against having wild animals in circuses for many years. They have complex needs that cannot be properly met in a circus environment. It’s high time keeping wild animals in circuses is consigned to the history books and we look forward to the day that it is banned for good in England.”

Bolton North East MP Sir David Crausby has been campaigning for a ban for a number of years and said the new bill was "the right thing to do".

He said: "It's about time really and I'm pleased with it. Those days are gone and there are other ways to entertain people in circuses.

"I would like to think that it's not the end for the circuses but travelling around with animals like that is difficult and it's not good for the animals."