Los Angeles Council unanimously directs city to draft ordinance to prohibit wild or exotic animal exhibitions for entertainment

Animal Defenders International (ADI) applauds the Los Angeles City Council’s unanimous approval of Councilmember David Ryu’s motion to instruct the City Attorney to craft an ordinance to prohibit the exhibition of wild or exotic animals for entertainment or amusement. The ordinance aims to protect wild animals from being used in circuses, other wild or exotic animal shows, and rentals for house parties. 

ADI is honored to work with Councilmember Ryu and the City Attorney’s Office on this ground-breaking animal protection measure, which, when finalized, will make Los Angeles the largest city to pass such an ordinance. 

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Councilmember David Ryu stated: “Wild and exotic animals have a long history of being exploited for public and private entertainment. Treating animals in this manner has taught generations of people that it is okay to view wild and exotic animals as toys. It is time that the City of Los Angeles take action to make clear that exhibiting such animals in this way is no longer in line with our City’s values.” 

ADI President Jan Creamer said “Animal Defenders International is working closely with Councilmember Ryu’s office on this effort and we know how determined he is to protect wild animals and the public from these cruel and dangerous acts. ADI has repeatedly documented the suffering and abuse of wild animals in circuses. Circuses simply cannot meet the needs of wild animals in small, mobile accommodation. We applaud the Los Angeles City Council for taking this important step today to protect animals in entertainment.”  

Despite assurances from the circus industry, the physical and psychological health of animals in circuses is inevitably compromised. Animals in circuses are routinely subjected to brutal training methods and violence – wherever ADI has conducted an undercover investigation around the world, it has documented acts of abuse. Animal circuses do nothing to teach people about the animals’ real needs and the way they live, and have no role in education or conservation.

Guatemala recently became the 35th nation around the world which has banned either wild animals or all animals from traveling shows. ADI worked closely with Congressional Representatives Ryan Costello (R-PA-06) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) on their introduction last month of H.R. 1759, the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), which when passed will see an end to the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling shows in the US.

Last year, ADI rescued over 100 animals from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade in Peru and Colombia, including lions, bears, tigers, monkeys and others. ADI and the governments of Peru and Colombia collaborated for the unprecedented Operation Spirit of Freedom campaign; animals were rehabilitated at the ADI rescue center and rehomed in their natural habitats, with 33 African lions returned to their native Africa to start a new life at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, where ADI is funding construction of their habitats and their care. 

Join the global campaign to Stop Circus Suffering: www.stopcircussuffering.com

 Background of worldwide movement to end the use of wild animals in traveling shows the evidence that the suffering caused to wild animals by the constant travel, severe restrictions on movement and unnatural lifestyle has prompted authorities and governments around the world to end their use.

In the United States, 71 jurisdictions in 27 states have taken action to restrict wild animals from traveling circuses. Hundreds of local ordinances are in place around the world, including in the UK, Europe, and South America. 

National restrictions on performing animals in travelling circuses, either wild or all animals, have been enacted in 35 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Iran, Israel, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Taiwan, and The Netherlands. Similar laws are under discussion in the UK, USA, Brazil and Chile.
Whether it is a traveling circus, or travel from county show to county show, the confinement for the animals is the same: 

• Traveling circuses cannot meet the physical, psychological or behavioral needs of wild animals, due to severe confinement, physical and social deprivation, long periods of time in transporters, with brutal control methods and physical violence.

• It is a myth that wild animals are trained with kindness and reward; the tools of the trade include stun guns and other electric prods, metal bars, whips, bullhooks (a heavy bar with a sharpened point and hook), deprivation of food and water and intimidation.

• Keeping stressed, large, and dangerous wild animals close to the public in lightweight, temporary enclosures has proven disastrous. Workers and members of the public have been killed and maimed; lions, tigers and elephants have all escaped.

• It is estimated that around 12% of Asian and 2% of African elephants in North America have tuberculosis (TB), a disease transmissible from elephants to humans.

• Because of the traveling nature of the circus, animal welfare officers have difficulty protecting the animals, making inspections, despite significant associated time and costs. This justifies a restriction, for the protection of the animals and the public.

• Circuses must change with the times. Human only circuses are thriving. Cirque du Soleil now has 19 shows in 271 cities, generating an estimated $810 million a year. Whereas the wild animal traveling show, Piccadilly Circus, recently canceled performances across Southern California due to poor ticket sales.

Circus workers perform multiple roles; staff can be retrained, so jobs are not lost. Circus Vargas removed their animal acts and the business continues. Surveys have shown that a decline in animal circuses can be matched by a rise in circuses with human performers. 

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is active worldwide to end the suffering of captive animals in commercial use: animals used in entertainment – film, television, advertising, circuses and sport or leisure such as hunting or for products such as fur. Replacement of animals in scientific research; funding and promotion of non-animal advanced methods. ADI investigates, produces evidence and reports on the scientific, legal and economic issues for each case study, recommending solutions. Information is distributed to the media, public and officials. Where ADI’s evidence has been a catalyst for change, we collaborate with governments to conduct large scale seizures or rescues of wild animals in captivity and relocate them to forever homes – back to their natural habitat wherever possible.   

Source: Animal Defenders International: Ending the suffering of animals in captivity and protecting wild animals and their environments, April 25, 2017, LOS ANGELES, CA, Images and footage

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