Pennsylvania Senator Promises Bill to Ban Wild Animals in Circuses

Circus elephants just scored a victory with an announcement that Ringling Bros. will be retiring its performers, but big cats and other wild animals left behind may get their own victory in Pennsylvania if a state senator can get them banned.

The emotional and physical toll life on the road as performers takes on elephants has taken center stage, but for other species like big cats, life in the entertainment industry is just as bad.

As Care2′s Abigail Geer pointed out, substituting other wild animals for elephants, which is what Ringling Bros. plans to do, isn’t a total victory. Lions, tigers and other wild animals might be popular attractions, but we should be just as concerned with their continued use and exploitation for our amusement, especially considering some of these species are endangered and their future in the wild is in jeopardy.

While life in traveling shows is one of deprivation for wild animals where their needs as a species and as individuals are ignored, problems also come when they’re no longer useful as performers. Animal advocates have long raised concerns about the life of big cats after circuses decide not to use them anymore, which can include ending up in zoos, canned hunting facilities or the illegal wildlife trade.

As the public continues to turn against using wild and exotic animals as performers, a growing number of local and state regulations that ban or restrict their use, or cruel training tools, keeps growing, but a statewide ban would send a strong message to Ringling Bros. and other companies that continue the practice that it’s time to stop.

Pennsylvania Senator Daylin Leach has promised to act on behalf of these animals by introducing legislation that will ban their use in traveling exhibitions. In an announcement regarding his intention to introduce the bill, he stated:

Elephants are not the only circus animals that are suffering. To maximize profit, traveling exhibitions use grueling itineraries that force all of their animals to endure cramped living quarters, limited social interaction, and perpetual stress. Circuses hide this suffering from audiences, who witness only the power and grace of these magnificent animals. The secret is out. The public will not tolerate this unconscionable cruelty any longer.

Even though Ringling Bros. made the right move for elephants, in theory at least, the circus’ parent company Feld Entertainment is apparently not ready to let go of its other wild animal performers just yet.

Steven Payne, vice president for corporate communications at Feld Entertaintment, told Penn Live the potential ban would certainly keep its show out of the state and that the company plans to “educate” lawmakers about how well its circus animals are treated.

Meanwhile animal advocates and organizations including Animal Defenders International (ADI), which is working with Senator Leach on the legislation, will continue to campaign to end animal performances. In a statement of support, ADI’s President Jan Creamer said, “The days of animals suffering in traveling circuses are numbered, not just here in the US but all over the world.


Please sign and share the petition urging Pennsylvania lawmakers to support and co-sponsor Senator Leach’s efforts to end the use of wild animals in circuses.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Pamela A.
Pamela A2 years ago

The exploitation of animals must stop
Hey consumer!?!? Stop buying tickets!
They will get the message loud and clear

Romola Newport
2 years ago

I am saddened that big countries like the USA and UK still have non human animals performing in a circus, in New Zealand our last circus animal was surrendered in 2009, Mila an Elephant is now in the Santiago Zoo with other Elephants, I hope she is well looked after and happy.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the useful article.

Kamia C.
Kamia T2 years ago

I'm glad that attention is being paid to the problem of animals in circuses, but the problem will inevitably be that the people who own them aren't going to be willing to part with the animals for free and/or there may not be a place for all of them to be sent to, We can legislate all we want to, but if we don't also solve the problems monetarily of what to do with the animals once they are no longer valuable to the circus, we're missing the mark.

sonia b.
sonia b2 years ago

love to all animals in the world.prison to the killers.

Dianne D.
Dianne D2 years ago

Petition signed. Not using wild animals in any entertainment venue needs to be banned nation wide.

Tammy D.
Tammy D2 years ago

Finally! A Pennsylvania politician who isn't a complete wacko. Yay! Good on you, Leach. Very happy to read this, and I hope this bill gets a ton of support.

What I find funny is that Ringling, et al, are so keen to show how well the animals are treated. What they are failing to see though is that regardless of their living conditions and care, these species are not meant to live a life in cages, being carted around from place to place and performing tricks in large crowds of people. The very concept of keeping these animals and using them for entertainment and profit is wrong. Petition signed.

Mahmoud Khalil
Mahmoud Khalil2 years ago


Julia R.
Julia R2 years ago

I’m so glad to hear that Senator Leach is taking action through his bill that would ban all wildlife acts at circuses! No animal should be subjected to such a cruel life just for a few minutes of human entertainment! When people really think about the miserable lives that animals are forced to live in circuses- such as intense confinement, being taken away from their families and the natural world where they were meant to live, and deprived of all their natural instincts just to be whipped, beaten and treated like slaves, who could possibly enjoy watching these animals perform?! Thank you Senator for showing compassion for animals and being a leader in stopping all animal cruelty at circuses. I hope that your bill passes and Pennsylvania will become the first state to lead the way in this humane victory and other Senators will follow your exemplary action leading to more states finally putting an end to decades of exploitation and cruelty to so many animals!