California Lawmakers Ban Exotic Animals at Circuses

September 12, 2019by Liam Dillon
In a July 2016 image, PETA supporters gather on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall to call on the city to ban using tigers, lions and other wild animals in circuses. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Circuses in California would no longer be allowed to include wild animals under a bill state legislators sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday.

Should Newsom sign Senate Bill 313, circuses in the state will no longer be allowed to use bears, tigers, elephants, monkeys or other wild animals in their acts. Democratic state Sen. Ben Hueso of San Diego said circus animals are often chained and confined to trailers or cramped cages and physically punished with whips and muzzles if they don’t perform.

“Bears, tigers, elephants and other wild animals exploited in traveling acts don’t ride bicycles, jump through hoops or balance on pedestals because they want to,” Hueso said in a statement. “They perform these and other difficult tricks because they’re afraid of what will happen if they don’t.”

Domesticated dogs, cats and horses would still be allowed in circuses, and rodeos aren’t affected by the legislation. If Newsom approves the bill, California will become the third state to have banned wild animals in circuses, following Hawaii and New Jersey, which passed their own bills this year, according to Social Compassion in Legislation, the organization that’s the principal supporter of the bill.

State senators approved the bill on a 35-0 vote Wednesday without debate. Opponents of the measure argued that circus animals are well cared for and that the measure would keep millions of Californians from experiencing traveling circuses.

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