Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Stop Circus Suffering Legislation

Posted: 26 February 2016. Updated: 21 February 2018

ADI’s Stop Circus Suffering is a major international drive to end the suffering of animals in circuses. ADI undercover investigations expose the treatment of animals and this, together with the legal and economic arguments, are the catalyst for change. ADI and our partners have successfully eliminated the abuse of circus animals in local jurisdictions all over the world. To date, 35 countries have banned the use of animals in traveling circuses; a few have banned all animal acts.

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

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

Representative Ryan Costello (R-PA) and Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) have reintroduced The Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA, H.R.1759) to amend the Animal Welfare Act 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.

The key to securing national legislation is ensuring legislators are aware that YOU and others like you want to see them act – that means 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 say 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 LA, support CM Ryu’s ordinance to prohibit dangerous wild animal acts!


Hawaii is poised to be the first state to ban wild animal acts! The Hawaii Board of Agriculture approved a proposal to prohibit the import of certain “dangerous wild animals” (elephants, tigers, and bears) for exhibition and performance, and now seeks public comment. Help make Hawaii the first state to ban wild animal acts!

ADI applauds Hawaii Governor David Ige and the Board for their support! ADI worked with the Hawaiian Humane Society, HSUS, and local advocates - meeting with legislators, crafting language, and submitting evidence – in the efforts to ban such acts.

Public hearings have now taken place on all five islands. The proposal now goes back to the Department of Agriculture before being sent to the Governor to sign.

For more information visit ADI here


GOOD NEWS FOR ELEPHANTS. The Governor of Illinois has signed into law a ban on the use of elephants in circuses and other traveling exhibitions, sponsored by State Senator Linda Holmes, and effective January 1, 2018. ADI reached out to local advocates in IL, noting support for SB1342, but urging an amendment to protect all wild animals suffering in traveling shows. Hopefully, the next step will be to BAN ALL WILD ANIMALS FROM CIRCUSES. This is great news but the momentum is there to end the suffering of all wild animals, please get involved today and bring that day closer.


ADI reached out to legislators in support of Maine’s LD396/HP287 which protects circus elephants, but also strongly urged such protections instead reflect current science, which makes clear that all wild animals suffer in traveling acts. ADI provided extensive data to ME 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.

They need to hear that this bill is important to and has the support of their constituents.

If you live in Maine, please contact the Agriculture Committee and your representative and urge them to support an amendment to LD396/HP287 to protect for ALL 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 – to prohibit cruel and dangerous traveling wild animal acts throughout the Commonwealth. S.490 was heard May 2nd, along with S1328/H295, bills which limit their protections to only one species – elephants. ADI reached out to legislators with substantial evidence demonstrating that all wild animals inherently suffer in this industry; however, there was much opposition from industry voices at the hearing, S490 must have your constituent voices of support to move. 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).

Opposition to the bill is significant. If you live in Massachusetts, please contact the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and your representative and urge them to support S. 490 to protect ALL wild animals in circuses, and the safety of the citizens of Massachusetts, by banning all traveling wild animal acts. They need to hear that this bill is important to and has the support of their constituents.


ADI strongly opposes 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 declare themselves “an emergency act,” “necessary” for the “preservation of public health, welfare, peace and safety,” ignoring mounting evidence that live animal entertainment is inherently cruel and dangerous to both animals and humans. HB1907 also retroactively declares “[a]ny existing or future order, ordinance, policy, or regulation prohibiting the use of a working animal shall be null and void.” Both broadly define “working animals” as “the use of any animal for the purpose of performing a specific duty or function in business, commerce, or service, including, but not limited to, animals in entertainment.” SB918 has already passed out of committee, with recommendation for the full senate to pass.

These bills fly in the face of current scientific understanding and growing public recognition – including a majority of Americans - who understand that animal entertainment is cruel, outdated, and dangerous.

If you live in Missouri, oppose HB1907 and SB918
MO senators
MO representatives

New Jersey

On December 18, 2017, the NJ state Assembly Appropriations Committee unanimously voted to pass Nosey’s Law (A4386/S2508) - a bill to ban wild animal circus acts - out of Committee. The bill passed the NJ Senate last year as S2508 (sponsored by Senator Lesniak), to ban circus elephant acts. After meeting with ADI, Assembly A4386 sponsor Rep. Raj Mukherji agreed to amend the bill to protect all wild animals suffering in circuses. Nosey’s Law (A4386/S2508) now moves to the full Assembly for a vote January 4th, and then to the Senate January 8th (to concur on the amendment).

If you live in NJ, join ADI’s week of action January 1-5, to support Nosey’s Law A4386/S2508 as amended, to ban all wild animal circus acts!!!
Find details here

New York

Hot on the heels of NYC’s new ordinance (joining Greenburgh, Plattsburgh, and Southampton, NY) to ban wild animal circus acts, similar NY state bills are moving through the legislature. The Elephant Protection Act, banning elephant performances, awaits the governor’s signature. And because all wild animals suffer in circuses, two new bills seek to prohibit all wild animal acts: NY Senator Hoylman’s 200276 is in the Senate Agriculture Committee, and NY Assemblyman Englebright’s A08157 is with the Assembly Rules Committee, having already passed its first committee 23-7!

Thank you NY Assemblymember Englebright, and NY Senator Hoylman!

Please take a stand for all wild animals - if you live in New York, please urge your Assembly Members and your Senator to support S00276 & A08157 to end the suffering of all wild animals, and protect public. Contact the Assembly Rules Committee to support A08157 here.

New York City

SHARE IT NOW: NEW YORK CITY JUST BANNED WILD ANIMAL CIRCUS ACTS! The misery of lions, tigers living in trucks, chained elephants and other animals forced to live in parking lots has been ended in New York City thanks to a measure sponsored by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez. THANK YOU NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL! Years of hard work saw victory for the animals - it was a pleasure 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. BE INSPIRED DEMAND A BAN ON ALL WILD ANIMALS IN CIRCUSES WHERE YOU LIVE, AT STATE LEVEL & NATIONALLY!

North Carolina

Charlotte and Winston-Salem
ADI is working with local groups in Charlotte 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 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 & 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 bills heard at 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

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
ADI worked with local advocates and advised Pittsburgh’s City Council regarding the cruelty and risks of traveling animal acts. We also provided extensive data and evidence, including that about the notorious Lacey family, after Alex Lacey had the audacity to declare at the committee meeting that he treats his cats ‘like family.’ For more on ADI’s investigations into the Lacey family, see this link. To see ADI’s letter outlining these issues to the Pittsburgh Council, see this link. We need your outreach to let councilors know it’s time to end these acts.

If you live in Pittsburgh, ask the City Council to prohibit cruel and unsafe circus animal acts


Nashville, Tennessee
ADI has recently begun a new campaign working with local groups in Nashville 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 Nashville, ask your Councilmember to support a ban on cruel animal acts.


Fairfax County, Virginia
ADI is working with local campaigners to prohibit the use of wild animals in traveling acts coming to Fairfax County, Virginia. 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 Fairfax County, ask your Supervisor to support a ban on cruel animal acts.

© Animal Defenders International 2018