Officials at pressure group Animal Defenders International (ADI) are pushing for the U.K. government to honour its pledge of introducing a ban on performing animals, and Notting Hill star Ifans is joining them.

Announcing his support for ADI's Stop Circus Suffering campaign, he says, "Like bear baiting, witch burning and the 'Welsh not' (outmoded school punishment), this cruel practice belongs in the past."

Jan Creamer, ADI President, says, "Rhys is a true star for speaking out on behalf of the lions, tigers and other wild animals who continue to suffer for entertainment. Confining these incredible animals to cages and forcing them to perform tricks serves no education or conservation purpose and must be stopped.

"We urge the Welsh Assembly and British Government to urgently move forward with their plans to prohibit them once and for all, and landowners not to allow these archaic acts on their land in the meantime."

More than 30 countries around the world have introduced restrictions on animal performances, and a British ban has been on the table since 2012 but is yet to be implemented.

Other stars who have been campaigning for an end to the use of animals in circuses including actors Martin Freeman and Michael Sheen, and pop group Little Mix.