Is NYC Next To Ban Wild Animals In Circuses?

NYC inches closer to banning the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes.

(CIRCUS ANIMALS/ANIMAL NEWS) New York City is one step closer to banning wild animals in circuses. The new proposal has been gaining momentum, and now even Mayor Bill de Blasio is voicing his support of the measure.

Heavily backed by NYCLASS–the same animal rights group that’s worked for years to ban horse-drawn carriages in Central Park, the bill would make it illegal for traveling circuses like Ringling Bros. to perform throughout the city unless they stop featuring wild or exotic animals like elephants, tigers, lions, monkeys, and even sloths.

While circus supporters claim none of the animals are harmed during their training, animal advocates say the circus puts animal abuse on display as there are many instances of animal handlers using whips on big cats and bull hooks on elephants. What’s more, not only are these animals forced to perform unnatural tricks, but they are also caged and chained in trains and trailers, and endure months of stressful travel each year.

Simply put: these animals belong in the wild, not in the circus. We urge the swift passage of this bill, which will send a message that NYC cares deeply about the humane treatment of animals.

Read on to learn more about the Mayor’s support for the bill and how NYC could set the precedent for other major U.S. cities to follow suit. — Global Animal

NYC inches closer to banning the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes.
New York City inches closer to banning the use of wild animals in circus performances.

New York Daily News, Jennifer Fermino

He can’t get rid of the horses in Central Park, so now Mayor de Blasio is going after lions, tigers and bears.

The de Blasio administration on Thursday came out in favor of a City Council measure that would ban wild and exotic animal performances in the five boroughs, a move that circus bigs say would force them to stop all their shows in New York City.

Jeff Dupee, a City Hall community liaison who is the mayor’s point person on animal issues, said at a City Council hearing on the bill that the administration’s goal is the “humane” treatment of all animals.

“It is inappropriate for the wild and exotic animals covered by this bill to be forced to perform for entertainment purposes,” said Dupee.

Although he said the mayor overall supports the bill, he did ask for some of its language to be tweaked to reflect government sponsored conservation and educational programs that use wild animal demonstration.

As an example, he said a Parks Department class to teach young people about wild life has demonstrations with foxes, and believes it would be axed if the bill went through as is.

“We look forward to working with the Council to ensure that the scope of the bill matches its intent,” he said.

Columbia has passed a bill banning circuses from using wild animals in their show.
So far, 32 countries all over the world have banned the use of wild animals in circuses. Photo Credit:

Animal rights supporters also testified in favor of the bill, including a rep for NYCLASS, the politically-connected, anti-carriage horse group that tried to ban the buggies from Central Park.

“Elephants do not naturally wear tutus, tigers do not instinctively jump through rings of fire, bears do not ride bikes,” she said in her testimony.

But Big Top brass — including a lion tamer from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey — insisted their animals were always treated well.

“The health and well-being of my animals is my top priority, every single day,” said Alexander Lacey, the big cat circus trainer.

He said none of the training results in any harm to the animals.

Abusive methods are often used to train circus animals. Photo credit: Kerri9494 via flickr
Abusive methods are often used to train circus animals–most commonly bull hooks with elephants. Photo credit: Kerri9494 via flickr

A Barclays Center exec also testified that they closely monitor the circus when it comes to their arena, and have never seen any animal abuse.

The circus “has a rich tradition of providing quality, family-based entertainment,” said senior VP of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment.

But City Councilman Corey Johnson, chair of the Health Committee that is examining the bill, didn’t appear convinced.

After a Ringling Brothers exec said they travel with tranquilizer guns in case of emergency, he said, “Doesn’t that sort of tell us … that maybe these animals shouldn’t be used for those purposes?” he said.

He also said he thinks future generations will be ashamed of the way we treated animals.

“Wild animals should not be used for these purposes,” he said.

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