Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Stop Circus Suffering Legislation

Posted: 26 February 2016. Updated: 27 September 2018

ADI’s Stop Circus Suffering campaign is a major international drive to end the suffering of animals in circuses. ADI presents evidence, including undercover investigations that expose the cruel treatment of animals, as well as legal and economic arguments, to effect change. ADI and our partners have successfully eliminated the abuse of circus animals in local jurisdictions all over the world. To date, 45 countries have banned the use of animals in traveling circuses; several have banned all animal acts.

In the United States, momentum is building at the local, state, and federal level – still, bills don’t move without constituent voices. ADI needs you to give animals a voice by contacting your representatives.

The Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA, H.R.1759): a federal Bill to end the use of wild animals in circuses.

US Representatives Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA, H.R.1759) to restrict the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling performances. Federal legislation is necessary because circuses involve “interstate commerce” (crossing state and other jurisdictional lines), and because the Animal Welfare Act deems animal exhibition to be a federal matter; public safety issues are passed down to state and local governments, requiring action there as well. All are vital steps to eliminate this suffering.

Key to securing national legislation is to ensure legislators are aware that YOU and others like you want to see change – that typically requires constituents’ regular contact, not just when the issue is before them or in the news. Your members of Congress need to know that people want action to end the suffering of circus animals.

We encourage you to contact your senators and representatives in support of H.R.1759 (TEAPSPA); phone calls are especially effective. When visiting their offices, the first and last thing legislators let us know is whether or not they’ve heard from their constituents. Constituent voices are very powerful and can open doors to the most surprising places.

Find sample letters, talking points and how to contact your representative on our STOP CIRCUS SUFFERING page


In 2015, ADI worked with California legislative counsel to submit language on a circus animal ban bill. The effort was supported by San Francisco Board Supervisor Katy Tang (who was instrumental in that city’s ban), among others. Help ADI protect animals by asking legislators to support its introduction.

If you live in California, contact your legislators

Los Angeles, California
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.

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.”

In Los Angeles, support CM Ryu’s ordinance to prohibit dangerous wild animal acts!


Strong local advocates in Colorado are stirring action in that state. If you live in CO, ask your legislators to consider measures to protect its citizens and animals from cruel and dangerous acts.


In 2015, Hawaii’s Governor Ige pledged to discontinue permitting for wild animal acts; the Hawaii Board of Agriculture has yet to act on the necessary rule changes. However, on September 25, 2018 the Board will consider proposed rule amendments identifying certain wild animals as “dangerous,” including elephants, tigers, and bears, among others, and prohibiting their import into the state for use in circuses and carnivals. ADI supports the proposed rule changes and urges the Board to vote “yes,” and make good on the Governor’s pledge to end cruel and dangerous wild animal circus acts.

Even if you can’t attend in person, please ask your legislators and the state Board of Agriculture to move on these measures, to end cruel and dangerous wild animal acts - find your legislator and contact the Hawaii Board of Agriculture Chairman Scott Enright and Hawaii Board of Agriculture Members TODAY at HDOA.BOARD.TESTIMONY@HAWAII.GOV or (808) 832-0584.

For more information and a template letter to use click here.

On September 25, the Hawaii Board of Agriculture voted 6-3 to adopt rule amendments to ban the import of certain “dangerous” wild animals for circus and carnival performances and exhibitions!

ADI welcomes this historic move, as the first US state to stop circus suffering for wild animals – we supported the effort and submitted written testimony, and now send our shout out of thanks to the local supporters who’ve worked on this for years, some since personally witnessing Tyke’s dreadful end 24 years ago.
The legislation next goes to the Small Business Regulatory Review Board (SBRRB), then to Governor Ige for signature.

If you live in Hawaii, the animals STILL need you! Help take this over the finish line –please email Hawaii Governor Ige and urge him to sign the measure!


Illinois banned the use of elephants in circuses and other traveling exhibitions, effective January 1, 2018. ADI reached out in support of the bill (SB1342), but urged its protections extend to all wild animals suffering in traveling shows. In Illinois, ask your legislators to support a ban on all wild animal circus acts.


In 2017, Maine considered LD396/HP287, a bill to ban circus elephant acts; ADI supported the bill, but also strongly urged such protections extend to all wild animals suffer in traveling acts, consistent with current science and local ordinances in Bar Harbor and Portland. ADI provided extensive data to Maine legislators, demonstrating that all traveling wild animal acts are inherently inhumane and unsafe. Legislators in Maine need to know that their constituents support broader protections. If you live in Maine, please contact your representative and urge them to support a measure to protect wild animals in circuses, and the safety of Maine citizens, by banning all traveling wild and exotic animal acts.


ADI worked closely with Senator Tarr and local advocates on S.490, a bill to prohibit cruel and dangerous traveling wild animal acts throughout the Commonwealth. S.490 was heard in 2017, along with other bills to ban elephant acts only. ADI reached out to legislators with substantial evidence demonstrating that all wild animals inherently suffer in this industry. Opposition to the bill is significant; to move, S490 must have the support of constituent voices. Nine MA localities have already passed ordinances that, like S.490, ban all traveling wild/exotic animal acts (Braintree, Cambridge, Plymouth, Pittsfield, Provincetown, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, and Weymouth). If you live in Massachusetts, please contact your representative and urge them to support S. 490 to protect citizens and all wild animals from cruel and dangerous traveling wild animal acts.


ADI strongly opposed Missouri state bills HB1907 and SB918, which seek to block local government action on cruel animal entertainment, such as Richmond, MO’s ordinance banning wild animal circus acts. The bills ignore mounting evidence that live animal entertainment is inherently cruel, and dangerous for animals and humans. Both broadly define “working animals” as “any animal used for the purpose of performing a specific duty or function in entertainment, transportation, educational exhibits, or exhibition.” The bills passed the legislature in May and now move to the governor’s desk.
If you live in Missouri, let the governor and legislature know you oppose HB1907 and SB918, which prevent local communities from taking action to protect animals and their citizens from cruel and dangerous traveling animal acts.

MO senators
MO representatives
MO Governor

New Jersey

A bill seeking to ban wild animal circus acts across the state was unanimously passed out of committee on May 31, in a move that would see New Jersey become the first state in the US to introduce such a measure. The New Jersey Senate Economic Growth Committee voted (5-0) to pass Nosey’s Law (S1093/A1923).

The bill is named after long-suffering circus elephant Nosey, who now lives in a sanctuary while her former trainer faces cruelty charges. The bill was not heard in the Assembly before recess; but it is expected to be heard when the legislature returns this fall.

Seven New Jersey localities have already banned traveling wild animal acts - Bergen County, Clifton, Cumberland County, Hudson County, Jersey City, Passaic County, and Vineland.

ADI testified in favor of the bill and worked with bill sponsors Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, and local advocates, urging legislators to consider proposed clarifications, consistent with current New Jersey state law.

Call your legislators today to support Nosey’s Law A1923/S0193 to ban all wild animal circus acts!

New York

New York may also be close to passing a wild animal act ban. The NY Assembly recently voted overwhelmingly in favor of a ban but the bill was not heard in the senate before recess. It is expected to be heard when legislature returns in January 2019.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) applauds Assemblymembers Steven Englebright, Linda Rosenthal, Deborah Glick, and William Colton (A8157A), and Senator Phil Boyle (S7718A) for introducing the historic bills. ADI provided data to legislators and publicly campaigned in support of this action.

NY already passed a statewide ban on traveling elephant acts last year, which takes effect in 2019.

NOW is a good time to reach out to your representatives and urge them to support measures to stop circus suffering.

New York City
In 2017, New York City banned wild animal circus acts, joining Greenburgh, Plattsburgh, and Southampton, New York. Thank you to the New York City Council and to CW Mendez, who worked on this measure for 10 years. ADI was honored to work so closely with CW Mendez and our fellow NYC campaigners on this life-saving measure. Local supporters and activists, animal groups, and concerned members of the public united in their determination to get the ban passed and TOGETHER WE DID IT! This is a landmark victory as the biggest city in the US says no to circus suffering.

North Carolina

Charlotte, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem
ADI is working with local groups in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem on ordinances to prohibit traveling animal acts. This is no life for animals; the reality is a one of severe confinement, deprivation, brutality, extensive transport, inconsistent oversight, and a public very much unaware of the risks.

If you live in Charlotte, Raleigh or Winston-Salem, ask your councilors to support a ban on cruel animal acts.


ADI worked with Pennsylvania Senator Leach to draft and introduce SB248, to prohibit traveling wild and exotic animal acts. ADI has been honored to work with Senator Leach and his staff on the bill, reflecting increasing public recognition that these acts are both cruel and dangerous. We’ve received positive feedback from both sides of the aisle, and now seek to get the bill heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. We need your help to let these legislators know that Pennsylvania wants to end circus animal suffering!

If you live in Pennsylvania, contact your State Senator and Legislator and ask them to support SB248. Ask the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider and support SB248.

© Animal Defenders International 2018