Los Angeles, CA, February 19, 2019 – A new bill introduced today in the California State Senate would make it illegal to use or allow the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling acts. The Circus Cruelty Prevention Act (Senate Bill No. 313), authored by State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), recognizes both the animal welfare concerns, and public safety concerns of circuses and other traveling shows that force wild or exotic animals to perform.
“Wild animals used in circuses endure cruel training, near-constant confinement, and are deprived of their natural habitat,” said Sen. Hueso. “We cannot allow this type of abuse to occur in California. This bill will ensure that these beautiful creatures are not exploited or cruelly treated within our state.”
Wild animals are innately driven to behave as they would in their natural homes—the rich ecosystems in which their species evolved over millennia. When they’re denied any semblance of a natural life, they suffer physically and psychologically. For example, tigers evolved to be athletic, solitary hunters, who roam vast, remote forest territories and love to swim in streams. In circuses, they’re confined to cages barely larger than their own bodies, they’re unable to avoid conflicts with other tigers, and they can’t hunt, swim, or climb. As a result, they become obese, develop sores from lying on hard surfaces, may be injured or killed from fighting, and develop abnormal types of behavior to cope with their stress and frustration—such as constant pacing or overgrooming.
“Since the time when we banned the elephant bullhook in 2012 here in Los Angeles, there has been a shift of consciousness about the relationship between animal torture and entertainment dollars,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz of the Fifth District who hosted the coalition at Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday. “This is an important next step in the effort to protect wild and exotic animals from being abused for entertainment purposes. I commend Senator Hueso for taking on this challenge.”
“Wild and exotic animals aren’t photo props, they don’t belong on a carnival midway, and they’re not willing participants in circuses. When animals are used as props for so-called entertainment, their wellbeing will always be sacrificed. PETA proudly supports the Circus Cruelty Prevention Act, and looks forward to its passage, setting the stage for other states to follow suit,” says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange.
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Wild animals also pose an inordinate danger to public safety. Those who feel threatened or frightened act on their natural instincts—and when a bear, big cat, or elephant rebels, trainers can’t always protect themselves or the public. Dangerous interactions with captive wild and exotic animals have resulted in dozens of human deaths and catastrophic injuries—including amputations, broken bones, crushed pelvises, collapsed and punctured lungs, degloving injuries, head wounds, and brain injuries.
“Tigers and elephants do not exist for our entertainment, and it is not only wrong but outright dangerous to force them to perform for human audiences,” said Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation. “Families can have an entertaining, safe, and morally just time at a circus that does not include cruel captive animal performances. I urge the legislature to pass this bill before any more animals – or any humans – are hurt in the name of entertainment.”
Public demand for cruelty-free circuses continues to grow. Dozens of localities in at least 36 states restrict the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses. In 2018, New Jersey and Hawaii became the first states to ban the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses, and similar legislation is being considered in Illinois, New York, Massachusetts – and now California.
Local governments throughout California have already implemented bans or restrictions on the use of wild animals in circuses and/or traveling acts, including Corona, Encinitas, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Los Angeles, Marin County, Oakland, Pasadena, Rohnert Park, Santa Ana, and West Hollywood.
SB 313 is sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation and PETA.