A ban on the use of wild animals in circuses has been announced.
The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed signed the regulation this afternoon, announcing that it will come into effect in the new year.
He said there was widespread public support for the move, which applies to wild animals such as camels and tigers.
“The use of wild animals for entertainment purposes in circuses can no longer be permitted," he said.
"This is the general view of the public at large and a position I am happy to endorse.
"This is a progressive move, reflective of our commitment to animal welfare."
He welcomed recent moves by local authorities to block authorisation for the use of public lands by circuses where wild animals are involved.
He warned it is not tenable for a travelling circus to fully provide for the needs of wild animals.
"I am of course allowing a modest lead in period to allow for alternative arrangements to be made for the animals in question,” he said.
"While the retirement of the small numbers of wild animals in Irish circuses might seem like a loss; I am confident that this move will do more to secure the future of the circus community.
He said bringing circuses in line with modern welfare standards would encourage greater numbers of the public to attend.