Rules on how Italy will implement phasing out all animals used in circuses will be set out within one year by a Ministerial decree.
There are 100 circuses in Italy and an average of 2,000 animals forced to perform in shows across the mediterranean nation.
Animal Defenders International (ADI), a leading non-profit animal welfare organisation, has hailed the decision as a major breakthrough.
Jan Creamer, ADI President, said: “Travelling from place to place, week after week, using temporary collapsible cages and pens, circuses simply cannot provide for the needs of the animals.
“Through ADI’s undercover investigations we have shown the violence and abuse that is used to force these animals to obey and perform tricks. We applaud Italy and urge countries like the UK and the USA to follow this example and end this cruelty.”
In England, the Government has stated that it remains committed to a ban but has given no indication as to when the legislation, drafted and scrutinised back in 2013, will be introduced.
Animal rights campaigners have protested against animals in circuses
The British Veterinary Association said: “The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus – in terms of housing or being able to express normal behaviour.”
Wales and Scotland are also in talks to ban animals in circuses.
The news comes on the heels of India recently banning the use of wild animals, making Italy the 41st country to pass a national law prohibiting animals in circuses.
In 1998, bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, and tigers were banned from being forced to perform for entertainment acts in India.
But the use of elephants were banned in 2013, while last week the ban was extended to all wild animals.
Several other countries including Romania, Iran and the Netherlands, as well as a number of US cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Portland, Maine have already put introduced legislation that bans the use of wild animals in circuses.