Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Stop Circus Suffering Legislation

Posted: 26 February 2016. Updated: 24 May 2019

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): a federal bill to end the use of wild animals in circuses.

ADI is working closely with bipartisan sponsors to reintroduce the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA) to ban the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling performances, and will reintroduce TEAPSPA in May, 2019. Federal legislation is necessary because the Animal Welfare Act deems animal exhibition to be a federal issue, as a matter of “interstate commerce” (commerce crossing state and other jurisdictional lines); public safety issues are passed down to state and local governments, requiring action there as well. All are vital steps to eliminate this suffering.

Your voices are key to securing national legislation, to ensure legislators are aware that YOU and others like you want to see change; it 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 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.

In February 2019, Senator Hueso introduced the Circus Cruelty Prevention Act (SB313), a bill to ban all circus animal acts (except dogs, ponies, and horses) in California. ADI is working closely with Senator Hueso’s staff and attended an April 9 Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing, as well as an April 23 Judiciary Committee hearing to support the bill, having also previously provided written testimony. On May 20, the bill passed 34-0 out of the Senate and now heads to the House. If you live in California, please urge your legislators to support SB313 today. Find your legislator here.

Los Angeles, California
In 2017, the Los Angeles City Council’s unanimously approved 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 proposed ordinance aims to protect wild animals from being used in circuses, other wild or exotic animal shows, and rentals for house parties. Since then, ADI has worked closely with councilmembers and the city attorney’s office to develop draft language. It’s time to complete the draft, consistent with the motion, and finalize the ordinance with a vote.

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.


Four new Connecticut state bills to end traveling wild animal acts - HB5024HB5248HB6001, and HB6017 - have been introduced.

Cheers to the bill sponsors – Representatives Camillo (HB6001, HB6017), Elliott (HB5248), Kupchick (HB6001, HB6017), Michel (HB5248, HB6001, HB6017), Stallworth (HB5024), and Senator Duff (HB6001, HB6017).

Now before the Joint Environment Committee, these bills already enjoy the support of at least 6 cosponsors - Representatives Camillo, Kupchick, Lavielle, Lopes, Steinberg, Tercyak, as well as that of the Legislators for Animal Advocacy Caucus group.

Please reach out TODAY to thank the sponsors for their embrace of changing opinions and to urge them to protect animals and local citizens from cruel and dangerous wild animal acts. You can help make historic change in Connecticut!

Please urge your CT legislators to support HB5024, HB5248, HB6001, and HB6017 to protect animals and local citizens and ban wild animal acts. Find their details here.

Please also reach out to the Joint Environment Committee. Find member details here.


On December 21, 2018, Hawaii became the second US state to ban wild animal circus acts! Thank you Governor David Ige for signing into law rule amendments to ban the import of elephants, tigers, bears, and other “dangerous” wild animals for circus and carnival performances and exhibitions. It follows adoption of the legislation by the Small Business Regulatory Review Board earlier in the month. Never again will animals suffer in the Aloha state as poor Tyke did, her shocking and horrific death on the streets of Honolulu in 1994 never to be forgotten. Huge thanks also to tireless animal advocates Tyler Ralston, Cathy Goeggel of Animal Rights Hawai’i, Inga Gibson of Pono Advocacy, Stephanie Hendrick of Hawaiian Humane Society, and Keith Dane of The Humane Society of the United States. It took a village!


Illinois banned the use of elephants in circuses and other traveling exhibitions, effective January 1, 2018. ADI supported this measure, and urged its protections be extended to all wild animals suffering in traveling shows.

Cheers to IL State Senator Linda Holmes who this year introduced SB154 to ban traveling wild animal acts (and SB241 to end animal testing for cosmetics!). Cheers as well to SB154 cosponsors - Senators Laura Fine - Cristina Castro - Suzy Glowiak - Julie A. Morrison, Sue Rezin, Laura Ellman, and Laura M. Murphy, and SB241 cosponsors – Senators Cristina Castro - Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant - Suzy Glowiak - Laura Ellman, Laura Fine, and Julie A. Morrison, and Representatives Jonathan Carroll - John Connor - Daniel Didech.

On March 22, 2019, SB154 was referred to the Senate Assignments Committee; no hearing has yet been noticed.

On March 26, 2019, SB241 was referred to the Senate Rules Committee, with amendments; no hearing has yet been noticed.

If you live in Illinois please show your support for animals.
Ask Senate Assignments Committee members to support SB154 to stop the suffering of animals in circuses.
Ask Senate Rules Committee members to support SB241 to end animal testing for cosmetics.
Ask your legislators to support SB154 to ban wild animal circus acts, and SB241 to end animal testing for cosmetics.

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).

In January 2019, Massachusetts State Senators Tarr and Welch, and Representatives Ehrlich, Lewis, and Gifford, introduced/cosponsored SD588/HD576, to ban certain traveling animal acts (elephants, big cats, nonhuman primates, and bears) in the Commonwealth. The legislation will likely go to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

If you live in Massachusetts, please contact your representative and urge them to support SD588/HD576 to protect citizens and all wild animals from cruel and dangerous traveling wild animal acts.

Learn more here.


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

Championed by ADI, Nosey’s Law (S1093/A1923), named after long-suffering circus elephant Nosey, who now lives in a sanctuary, was signed by Governor Murphy on December 14. With this move, New Jersey made history by becoming the first US state to pass legislation banning the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses.

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.

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 again soon.

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
Strong local advocates in North Carolina are moving action in their state; ADI was honored to work with them to develop a draft proposal and joins them in applauding Representative Julie von Haefen for her commitment to this issue. If you live in NC, ask your legislators to consider measures to protect its citizens and animals from cruel and dangerous acts.


In March 2019, Pennsylvania Representative Melissa Shusterman introduced HB996, to ban the transport of certain “performance animals” - including bears, cheetahs, clouded leopards, cougars, elephants, giraffes, grey or red kangaroos, hippopotamus, jaguars, leopards, lions, nonhuman primates, rhinoceros, sea lions, seals, sharks, tapirs, tigers, and zebra - for the purpose of participation in a traveling animal act.

HB996 has been assigned to the PA House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, and already enjoys the support of 33 cosponsors! We need your help to let these legislators know that Pennsylvania wants to end circus animal suffering!

Please urge your legislators and the members of the Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee to support HB996. Find talking points to include here.

© Animal Defenders International 2019