Illinois Just Became the First State to Ban Performing Elephants

In another major victory for animals used in entertainment, Illinois has become the first state in the nation to ban the use of elephants in traveling circuses.

The new law, which will go into effect on January 1, 2018, was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner this month and will ban circuses and traveling exhibitions from using both African and Asian elephants. It ultimately ends their exploitation throughout the state by stopping anyone from using them in virtually any form of entertainment from performances and parades to elephant rides, among other uses.

“African and Asian elephants are endangered species,” said Senator Linda Holmes, who sponsored this legislation. “Traveling circuses are not able to properly care for elephants and as a result, elephant exhibitions in Illinois have been found to be in violation of the Federal Animal Welfare Act several times. Allowing these inhumane practices to continue would be irresponsible and poor stewardship of such impressive animals.”

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 blatantly mistreated.

“For too long, elephants used in circuses have endured cruel training, constant confinement, and deprivation of all that is natural to them,” said Marc Ayers, state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “The public has come to see that these animals are victims, not willing performers. Illinois has taken a monumental step in ending this outdated form of entertainment and we urge other cities and states to follow suit.”

Even though we celebrated a major victory when Ringling Bros. announced it would be retiring its elephants, and later closing down, there are still many other circuses and companies carting them around the U.S.

A number of cities and states have taken action against this form of cruelty by passing ordinances prohibiting wild animals and the use of cruel training tools. But animal advocates are continuing to push for change on the federal level, since the mobile nature of circuses makes it difficult for law enforcement and inspectors to follow up on incidents and violations of laws.

The Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act would end the use of all wild and exotic animals in traveling circuses once and for all, and send a strong message that using some of the earth’s most iconic species for our amusement is no longer acceptable.


You can show your support for this critical legislation by signing and sharing the petition asking Congress to pass the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act

For more updates on progress being made around the world, and info on how to help animals in circuses, check out Stop Circus Suffering.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

Lesa D
Past Member about a year ago


thank you, Alicia...

Jennifer H
Jennifer H1 years ago

Good news. More states must follow.

Melania P
Melania P1 years ago


Paulo R
Paulo R1 years ago

ty illinois

Paulo R
Paulo R1 years ago

ty Illinois

Margie FOURIE1 years ago

Good for Illinois

Sonia M

Good news.Petition alredy signed,thanks for sharing

RICKY S1 years ago


Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O1 years ago

Oh Fantastic News... Thank you very much to everyone. Another small step in the right direction.