Animal Defenders International (ADI) is celebrating as San Francisco Board of Supervisors cast their final vote today, unanimously approving a ban on wild animal performances in the city

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San Francisco Supervisors ban wild animal performances

April 21, 2015, SAN FRANCISCO CA – Animal Defenders International (ADI) is celebrating as San Francisco Board of Supervisors cast their final vote today, unanimously approving a ban on wild animal performances in the city. The ordinance’s stated intent is to “protect wild and exotic animals from cruel and inhumane treatment and to protect the public from the danger posed by the use of wild and exotic animals for entertainment.” ADI congratulates the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for their leadership, especially Supervisor Katy Tang, the main sponsor, who sees this as a step toward building momentum for a similar state wide ban or even a national ban in the US.

Jan Creamer, ADI President: “We congratulate the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for their leadership which will inspire further victories as other cities, states and eventually Congress votes to protect captive wildlife forced to perform in traveling circuses. Due to severe confinement, lack of free exercise, and the restriction of natural behaviors, animals used in traveling circuses suffer and are prone to health, behavioral, and psychological problems. The days of animals suffering in traveling circuses are numbered, not just here in the US but all over the world.”

ADI has reached out to Supervisor Tang, offering our congratulations and support to help with these broader goals, towards which ADI is already making significant progress. With now retired Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA), ADI has introduced federal legislation, The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act, which aims to ban the use of wild and exotic animals from performing in travelling circuses in the US. We are actively looking for a new sponsor for this bill, and have also met with many California State Legislators looking for a champion to head up state legislation that has already been drafted through Legislative Counsel.

By adopting this legislation, San Francisco joins at least 51 cities and counties in the United States that have restricted the use of wild animals in traveling circuses. Late last year Mexico and the Netherlands passed bans on wild animals in circuses, and in January, Bulgaria became the 31st country around the world with protections for circus animals. ADI is actively working in many other cities across the country and in the states of Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and New York which have all introduced similar proposed legislation.

Studies of the use of wild animals in traveling circuses show that circuses cannot meet the physical or behavioral needs of wild animals. Animals are confined in small spaces, deprived of physical and social needs, spending excessive amounts of time shut or chained in cages, trailers and train cars. These animals are often seen behaving abnormally; rocking, swaying and pacing, all indicating that they are in distress and not coping with their environment. ADI’s video evidence has shown how these animals are forced to perform tricks through physical violence, fear and intimidation.


About Animal Defenders International
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing behind-the-scenes suffering in the industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals and educates the public.

Background – worldwide movement to end 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, at least 51 cities/counties in 23 states have taken action to restrict wild animals from traveling circuses. And around the world, hundreds of local ordinances are in place, including in the UK, Europe, and South America.

National restrictions on performing animals in traveling circuses, either wild or all animals, have been enacted in 31 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, and Taiwan. Similar laws are under discussion in the US, UK, 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 difficulties with protecting the animals, inspections and 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.
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