A proposed bill (Assembly A5407/Senate S5971) in New York State would restrict the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses and shows. It would add a new section to the New York Agriculture and Markets Law to restrict any “traveling circuses or show” from allowing the “participation of an exotic or wild animal, including a non-human primate, in an animal act if during the thirty day period preceding such participation, such animal was traveling in a mobile housing facility.”
Existing laws, such as the Animal Welfare Act (the federal statute governing care, treatment, etc, for certain warm-blooded animals used in research, exhibition, and commerce) and Article 26 of the N.Y. Agriculture and Markets Law (where state laws concerning animals are kept) do not effectively protect animals who perform in shows at circuses. The AWA sets the minimum standards of care, and even the USDA has admitted that there is limitations in enforcing the AWA.
I assisted on the N.Y.C. Bar Association’s report on the bill, and the following summarizes our justifications for supporting the bill:
- The tricks that circus animals are forced to perform can involve physical coercion and abuse;
- Extensive travel and prolonged confinement of animals in circuses can be detrimental to their physical and psychological health and welfare;
- The public safety and the safety of workers may be put at risk by the exhibition of wild and exotic animals in circuses; and
- Current law does not adequately protect circus animals from abuse and mistreatment.
To learn more about the physical coercion and abuse that can be involved in the training of animals (specifically elephants) for circus acts, please read this Mother Jones article, The Cruelest Show on Earth.
If you agree with me that we need this law in New York to help protect animals, please sign this petition on change.org. Show your support — especially if you are a New Yorker!