Taiwan's parliament has amended a law to ban circuses from importing or exporting protected animals in an effort to improve protection of animal rights, a legislator said Friday.
Under the revised Wildlife Conservation Law passed late Thursday, all imports and exports of animals such as lions, tigers, elephants and monkeys are prohibited unless they are needed for research, said Tien Chiu-chin, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, who proposed the bill.
The new law categorises the banned animals in line with the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Previously circuses were permitted to import animals for performances.
The new law does not apply to animals already owned by circuses. "The performances are negative education on environmental conservation. Personal pleasure must not be built on the suffering of other animals," Tien said.
The amendment, which will become effective in two weeks, also imposes tougher punishment for animal abuse with a maximum one-year prison term for harassing, hurting or abandoning animals that results in their death or serious injury. Under current legislation animal abusers face fines of between 10,000 and 50,000 Taiwan dollars (303-1,515 US).