Breaking News: New York City Bans Wild Animals in Circuses and Shows
In a historic victory for the animal rights movement, the New York City Council just passed Bill 1233 prohibiting the display of wild or exotic animals for public entertainment or amusement. The bill, co-authored by councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Corey Johnson, passed with 43 yes votes. 6 were against or abstained.
“I’m blown away,” said Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYClASS, who spoke exclusively with World Animal News while the vote was passing and a huge roar of joy erupted in the chamber.
“I was there 11 years ago when this bill was first introduced by Rosie Mendez. This is revolutionary — a huge message that we’re sending not only to other cities in America but to the rest of the world! Abusing and exploiting wild animals for entertainment will no longer be tolerated in NYC. The animal protection community here is sobbing with joy, breaking down in tears of what a huge moment this is and for the plight of wild animals. The world pays attention to what happens in NYC and when something historic like this happens for animals, this makes waves that have a big impact and it will make it easier for other cities to prohibit wild animals in entertainment. Circuses are going to have to evolve and take animals out of the act or, like Ringling Brothers, go out of business.” — Edita Birnkrant
The NYC Council ruled that traveling circuses are detrimental to animal welfare due to the adverse effects of frequent transport, extended periods of confinement and physically abusive training techniques. The extended period of time in vehicles and temporary facilities utilized by the circus industry restrict natural behaviors and cause animals to suffer and be prone to health, behavioral and psychological problems. Tricks that exotic and wild animals are forced to perform require extreme physical coercion techniques, including the restriction of food, the use of bullhooks (a heavy bar with a sharpened point and hook), electric shocks, metal bars, whips, and other forms of physical abuse.
The conditions in traveling circuses, including constant travel, limited facilities, long periods of restricted movement, separation from natural groupings, stress, and physical coercion inevitably compromise the welfare of animals, which can lead to abnormal behavior and increased risks to public safety. Restricting the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses and shows is the most cost-effective and efficient way to safeguard both animal welfare and public safety.
“We’re going to look back on this day and I believe that it’s going to be a seminal moment where the largest municipality in America said ‘enough’. Let’s stop exploiting wild animals. They are losing their habitats, they are being poached or captured and then sold for entertainment purposes and used in the United States. We value them and we believe they should be respected and treated humanely. This is a step toward a more just and humane compassionate NYC and society.” — Councilmember Corey Johnson
Animal protection advocates view this victory as a model piece of progressive legislation to be promulgated around the country and internationally. Countries that have banned wild animals in circuses are: Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, El Salvador, Greece, Israel, Malta, Mexico, The Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Singapore and Slovenia.
On April 25, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved (14–0) Councilmember David Ryu’s motion to instruct the City Attorney to craft an ordinance which would prohibit the exhibition of wild or exotic animals for entertainment or amusement, including circuses, other wild or exotic animal shows, and rentals for house parties.