Friends of Animals (FoA) was bolstered by the turnout at a New York City Hall hearing Thursday for a bill (Intro 1233) that City Council is considering to ban wild and exotic animals from appearing in “entertainment” events. FoA and other advocates in favor of Intro 1233 far outnumbered those opposed to the bill, who, not surprisingly, were mainly circus employees from Ringling Brothers and UniverSoul.
Our testimony drilled home the point that wild animals used in circuses and other performances are often trained by having their spirits broken, forced to perform ridiculous, degrading stunts while otherwise caged and chained in trains and trailers, enduring arduous travel each year in small cages. Captive animals used for entertainment are denied their natural behaviors such as having extended social groups and living and moving freely in large outdoor areas.
What truly uplifted FoA was listening to youngsters from the public testifying that they don’t want to see wild animals in circuses. Six-year-old Charlotte Moore told legislators that some animals just don’t belong in circuses. “I really want to get rid of them,” she said. “They treat them badly and they have to be without their families.”
Friends of Animals also debunked the myth that breeding wild animals for circuses contributes to their conservation, a myth that circus employees perpetuated at the hearing. We pointed out that circuses breed animals to exploit them for financial gain—they are not contributing to conservation of the habitats of these animals in their native range in any way, nor are they reintroducing animals back into the wild, the gold standard of conservation.
Friends of Animals operates a wildlife sanctuary named Primarily Primates in San Antonio, Texas. More than 350 monkeys, chimpanzees, big cats, and other primates are cared for there — some cast-offs from the “entertainment” industry – once used in circuses, films, or TV ads — discarded when they’re no longer easily manipulated. We have first-hand knowledge of the psychological and emotional trauma that results from forcing chimpanzees, monkeys and other animals to become “performers.”
Thankfully, NYC Mayor Bill deBalsio came out in favor of a the bill.
Jeff Dupee, a City Hall community liaison who is the mayor’s point person on animal issues, said at the hearing: “It is inappropriate for the wild and exotic animals covered by this bill to be forced to perform for entertainment purposes.”
A circus spokesman warned the bill might spell the end of a 100-year tradition in the Big Apple. They complained that a proposal to ban wild and exotic animals at entertainment events was over the top — and said the Greatest Show on Earth wouldn’t comply.
We say goodbye and good riddance.
Another public hearing regarding Intro 1233 is being scheduled, so check back for more information. In the meantime:
1.Please call your New York City Council Members today and ask them to Intro 1233 (Sponsored by Council Member Rosie Mendez). Click here to find your NYC Council Member’s contact info. Ask your friends and family who reside in NYC to do the same.
2.Go to our website to read Friends of Animals’ official Memo of Support for Intro 1233 to the New York City Council and spread the word.