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Congress Has an Epic Opportunity to Ban Wild Animals in Circuses

Congress Has an Epic Opportunity to Ban Wild Animals in Circuses

This week Rep Jim Moran took yet another awesome stand for animals by reintroducing the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (H.R. 4525), which would would end the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling circuses over concerns about their welfare and the safety risks they pose to us.

According to Animal Defenders International (ADI), which is supporting the bill, there are an estimated 300 wild and exotic animals in U.S. circuses today. For them, life is restricted to confinement in unnatural barren enclosures and long journeys in between being used as performers for our entertainment.

Research, undercover investigations and news reports have exposed not only the problems inherent with keeping animals this way, but also the heartbreaking and violent abuses they’re exposed to behind the scenes that range from having food withheld to being beaten in training and blatantly mistreated.

“From video and photographic evidence, it’s clear that traveling circuses aren’t providing the proper living conditions for exotic animals. This legislation is intended to target the most egregious situations involving exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses,” said Moran in a statement. “The mounting evidence of inhumane treatment and the growing public concern for these animals demands that we reconsider what are appropriate living conditions for these intelligent, social creatures.”

While wild animals have been used in circuses for decades, we know so much more about what they need to be physically and psychologically healthy and the evidence shows that traveling circuses can never meet these needs, even with the best of intentions.

The continued use of these animals also poses a serious risk to the public. According to the Animal Welfare Institute, there have been over 30 serious incidents since 2000 that include the deaths of both animals and trainers and injuries to audience members.

While a number of cities and states have taken action and passed ordinances prohibiting wild animals and cruel training tools, supporters argue the issue needs to be addressed on a federal level because the mobile nature of circuses makes it difficult for law enforcement and inspectors to follow up on incidents and violations of the Animal Wefare Act, of which there have been many.

As can be expected, industry reps are already coming out in opposition. Stephen Payne, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Feld Entertainment Inc., told U.S. News & World Report that “it doesn’t make sense, it’s completely unfounded, it’s unnecessary, it will cost jobs and, as well, it might even harm our efforts to conserve an endangered species.”

Despite claims to the contrary, circuses aren’t contributing to the protection of imperiled species. They’re merely sending the message that it’s perfectly acceptable to take these animals and force them into submission for our profit and amusement. For us, there shouldn’t be anything entertaining about watching some of the earth’s most amazing species being reduced to ridiculous caricatures of their actual selves as they’re forced to perform humiliating and uncomfortable tricks.

Knowing better should mean doing better and in many places it already has. It’s time for the U.S. to join the dozens of other countries that have passed laws banning wild and exotic animals in circuses, which will soon be joined by others that are working on similar legislation, including the UK.


Please sign and share the petition asking the House Committee on Agriculture and your representative to take a stand for animal welfare and public safety by supporting this critical piece of legislation that will end the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling circuses.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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10:46AM PST on Jan 12, 2015


1:34PM PDT on Aug 6, 2014

Petition signed and shared...

4:24AM PDT on Jul 23, 2014

Petition signed and shared.

I can't stop crying for these poor animals!! I would like to do to these trainers what they did to them!!

I haven't been to a circus since I was a kid and go upset when I saw a guy hit a horse!! I tell everyone I know how cruel these people treat these animals so that they don't go either!! I never let my kids go and told them why!! They are animal lovers also, so they didn't have a problem with not going!!

9:35AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

Please sign the petition in support of the Traveling Wild and Exotic Animal Protection Act. In summary, the act — A.5407 in the New York State Assembly and S.5971 in the Senate — would add Section 352 to the New York Agriculture and Markets Law to prohibit any:

…traveling circuses or show from including the participation of an exotic or wild animal, including a non-human primate, in an animal act if during the thirty day period preceding such participation, such animal was traveling in a mobile housing facility.

The petition can be found here:

You can learn more about the Act and Circus Elephant Abuse here:

6:09AM PDT on Jun 26, 2014

To hear those elephants cry out in pain just broke my heart. How can people be so cruel? Have no empathy on those they inflict pain on. To hear it i was dying on the inside. Yet they show no emotion. I'm so sorry elephants. People are fighting for you. Signed. Thank you

10:48AM PDT on May 27, 2014

Signed and shared.... Shame!! This is not medieval times anymore!

3:27PM PDT on May 26, 2014

I have never been to a circus and will never attend one. I don't see the enjoyment of watching animals being forced to do unnatural tasks and knowing the mistreatment they are receiving. Wildlife is not entertainment.

1:07PM PDT on May 21, 2014

This is truly heartbreaking!! This is so important and I cannot believe there are "officials" who are against protecting animals!! Circuses are the worst of the worst!!!!

12:52PM PDT on May 19, 2014

I totally agree with Alan M!!

12:19PM PDT on May 17, 2014

Grazie,già firmato e condiviso.

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