Could New York City Be the Next to Ban Wild Animals in Circuses?

Animal advocates are celebrating progress in an effort to ban wild and exotic animals in New York City circuses, but the measure still needs support.

The New York City Council is currently considering a bill introduced by council members Rosie Mendez and Corey Johnson that would ban dozens of species of “wild or exotic animals for public entertainment or amusement,” ranging from elephants and big cats to bears and non-human primates.

Lawmakers point out in the bill that there are many reasons why using wild animals as performers puts their welfare at risk. Circus animals are subjected to frequent travel and extended periods of confinement, and they’re denied the ability to socialize or engage in other natural behaviors. Often, these animals also endure coercive and physically abusive training techniques.

Research, numerous undercover investigations and news reports have highlighted some of the violent abuses that performing animals face behind the scenes, including food restrictions, beating and other blatant mistreatment.

Ultimately, using animals this way takes a serious toll on them both physically and mentally — and that, in turn, puts public safety at risk.

If passed, the bill will likely have a major impact on UniverSoul Circus, which regularly uses wild animals, and has come under fire on multiple occasions for mistreating its performers. UniverSoul was banned from the city in 2014 after officials found that animals were being kept in inappropriate conditions, but the company was later allowed to return.

This week the City Council’s Committee on Health voted unanimously to pass the bill, which means it will soon go to the full council for a vote.

“Keeping exotic animals in captivity, transporting them around the country and requiring them to perform tricks night after night for human amusement is in our view inherently inhumane,” emphasized Councilman Corey Johnson, chair of the health committee.

Not only would this bill help protect animals and humans, it would set an amazing example for even more cities across the U.S. to follow. The legislation has received widespread support from the public and national animal advocacy organizations, but unfortunately, it faces some pushback from the circus industry, which is lobbying hard to see it fail.


Please sign and share this Care2 petition asking New York City council members to take a compassionate stand for animals by passing this important bill.

You can also help by signing and sharing the petition in support of a federal ban that would end the use of wild and exotic animal performances across the U.S.

For more on international efforts to protect wild animals from cruelty and exploitation, check out Stop Circus Suffering.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Melania P
Melania Padilla7 months ago

Thanks to dedication of lawmakers who worked to see this pass, and supporters like you who helped keep the pressure on, NYC has officially joined a growing list of cities in the U.S. that have banned the use of wild animal in entertainment!

Jennifer H
Jennifer H7 months ago

New York should. They have been ahead of the curve on many issues - this needs to be one of them.

Carl R
Carl R8 months ago


heather g
heather g9 months ago

This article sets out objections to circuses ver succinctly. Thank you.

Lorraine Andersen
Lorraine A9 months ago

wild animals performances should be banned everywhere. thanks for sharing.

Leo C
Leo C9 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Marija M
Marija M9 months ago

Good news, tks.

Anton Black
Anton Black9 months ago

such an interesting article. many thanks

Effra W
Effra W9 months ago

How uncivilized! Animals are not for our entertainment and this should have been banned last century.