California Moves a Step Closer to Ending Circus Suffering

Animal advocates are applauding lawmakers in California for moving the state a step closer to banning wild and exotic animals in circuses.

The state has already stepped up for wild animals by passing a law banning cruel bullhooks used on elephants, and several cities have bans on using wild and exotic animals for entertainment and performances. But the Circus Cruelty Prevention Act (SB 313), which was introduced earlier this year by Senator Ben Hueso, would go much farther and protect even more animals by making it illegal to use wild and exotic animals in traveling shows throughout the entire state. Plus, it would leave anyone found breaking the law facing fines of up to $25,000 for each violation.

As Senator Hueso noted in the bill’s justification, “[w]ild animals used in circuses endure cruel training, near- constant confinement, and are deprived of their natural habitat. We cannot allow this type of abuse to occur in California. This bill will ensure that these beautiful creatures are not exploited or cruelly treated within our state. There are many ways to teach children and others about wildlife without loading animals in cages, hauling them around, and subjecting them to the stress of unfamiliar environments.”

Not only will this bill protect animals from cruelty and exploitation, it will also protect us from the risks performing animals pose to public health and safety.

While it’s faced opposition, supporters are celebrating progress towards making wild and exotic animal performances a thing of the past in California with the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water voting unanimously to pass it this week.

“Elephants and tigers don’t belong in cages – and circuses that exploit them and other animals have no place here in California, or anywhere for that matter,” said Senator Hueso. “I thank the members of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee for their unanimous vote in favor of SB 313, and everyone who traveled to the Capitol to show their support for this important and overdue legislation.”

As more problems surrounding their use continue to be brought to light through investigations, scientific research and media reports, more people are turning against the practice and more and more places are bringing this outdated practice to an end by banning wild animal performances. Hopefully California will be the next to say enough is enough by passing this legislation.

“Polling shows that the majority of Californians support banning animals in circuses. The growing public disdain for archaic animal circuses and the dangerous incidents involving animals are why so many jurisdictions around the world are banning these types of performances,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation, which is sponsoring the bill.

If it does pass, California would join Hawaii and New Jersey, which passed similar bans last year, and close another major door to wild animal performers. It would also help send a strong message that exploiting animals for our fleeting amusement is no longer acceptable.


You can help keep the pressure on by signing and sharing the petition urging California lawmakers to pass the Circus Cruelty Prevention Act.

Photo credit: Getty Images


Nicky Heindryckx
Nicky H17 hours ago

I don't know the full situation of ALL zoos in the U.S.A. What I DO KNOW that is that in W. Europe, we have also zoos, but gradually the archaic ones are disappearing rather rapidly because legalization became very strong. Laws state how long, wide and high cages must be, per species. When zoo owners do not comply, they get a warning, stating amongst other things, what has to be improved and when the works must be completed. If they can not comply with these instructions, they are given a very last chance. When still failing their obligations, the zoo is closed down and animals are taken to better zoos and facilities. Sanctuaries when and where possible, but as we have dense populations, there is not much open space left, they are brought to MODERN ZOOS. Like the one of Planckendael, the Paira Daisa both in Belgium and Burger's Zoo in the Netherlands. There are also similar zoos in France, Germany, Spain etc.. but don't have their names at hand. Therefore I would like to say : California, do some googling for European Zoos, and you will find a lot of good examples of how to take care of wildlife animals.

Nicky Heindryckx
Nicky H18 hours ago

I say: FINALLY!! Wildlife should not be stuffed in jail cells, where they can barely turn around. They have NO companions because even if there are 4, 6 or more lions in a zoo or a circus, they do not stay together, they each have their own cage. Scientists proved a long ago that these animals are psychologically traumatized because of lack of movement, lack of companionship, being beaten, kicked, or even bullied by personnel. Gruesome world. Zoos, circuses and aquariums, private or not, should all be banned. In Belgium where I live, dolphins and other sea mammals were banned already 20/25 years ago, with the exception of ONE aquarium where they still had 2 dolphins. Next year they are closing down as well!! Hura!! So glad they will be transferred to a sanctuary and gradually adapted to a "normal" life. NOT ONE SINGLE wildlife animal should be imprisoned. They must be FREED from any human contact, except when they are sick, injured etc.. when they should be given the necessary treatment/s. And that's ALL !! Education for children? NO WAY! Children are just watching some funny things they do, knock hard on the glass, yell and shout but don't learn anything. Have you ever seen people reading the boards, giving a lot of info about the animal, it's habitat, what they eat, etc.. NO !! For people it's just fun and amusement.

Leo C
Leo Custeryesterday

Thank you for sharing!

Roxana Saez
Roxana Saez3 days ago


David C
David C3 days ago


Marija M
Marija M3 days ago

Good news, tks.

Terri S
Terri S3 days ago

Come on California!!!

Debbi W
Debbi W4 days ago

All ready signed the petition. Good for California!

Anne M
Anne Moran4 days ago

Hurry now...

Alea C
Alea C4 days ago

Kind and caring people don't go to circuses, which tells you all you need to know about the people who do. Circuses are filled with prisoners and sociopaths.