Posted: 16 November 2016. Updated: 4 April 2017
Animal Defenders International (ADI) applauds Reps Ryan Costello (R-PA-06) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) on their introduction of the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA) which will see an end to the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling shows in the US. Given the circumstances of constant travel in accommodations that need to be small, lightweight and suitable for transport on a truck or trailer, the congressmen have concluded that ending wild animal use is the only practical approach to deal with public safety issues and inspection and oversight problems repeatedly cited by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
ADI has been honored to provide evidence and assistance on the bill, which is expected to receive widespread public support. A recent poll has revealed that 2/3 of Americans are troubled by the use of animals in traveling shows. Across 27 states in the US, 66 jurisdictions have already decided to either ban or restrict the use of wild animals in traveling shows, due to concerns about public safety and animal welfare. Internationally, 34 nations have also taken action and ended wild animal performances.
Careful research and detailed investigations of animal circuses has shown that both public safety and animal welfare is unacceptably compromised in traveling performances. Large, dangerous and unpredictable wild animals, under duress and suffering stress from confinement in small spaces, often displaying behavioral abnormalities, has proven to be a public safety hazard. Escaped animals have maimed and killed workers, members of the public, including children.
Federal oversight of traveling animal acts is costly, problematic, and unmanageable. Nominal licensing fees and minimal, inconsistent monetary penalties don’t cover oversight costs; they are largely borne by taxpayers. The US taxpayer effectively pays for 87% of the licensing costs whereas the circus only pays 13%. To ban wild animals in circuses altogether is cleaner, less costly, and more easily enforced than the current, costly, admittedly problematic and ineffective regulatory oversight. The current administration is calling on Congress to make deep cuts to the budget, with an eye toward less government regulation. Passing the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (HR 1759) will protect animals and public safety while saving taxpayer money and reducing government regulation.
ADI advocates the change of the business model to human-performance circuses; they are popular with the public, require labor so create jobs, and bring in dollars without exposing citizens to chronically stressed and abused animals.
Launching the bill at a screening of the award-winning documentary Lion Ark in Congress today,
Rep. Costello said, “Traveling circuses have raised concerns about the treatment and well-being of wild and exotic animals, such as their ability to move and socialize. The Traveling Exotic Animal & Public Safety Protection Act will protect these animals from activities that are detrimental to their health. The residents of Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District are strong supporters of animal welfare and I’m proud to introduce this bill with Rep. Grijalva.”
Rep. Grijalva announced: “The captivity of exotic animals has proven over the years to be torturous to some of the most majestic creatures on Earth, and downright dangerous for the people who come to see them. A growing public understanding of the detrimental impacts on animals and the risks posed to attendees has already changed the face of circuses in America. It is imperative that we meet the call to end this practice once and for all.”
ADI President Jan Creamer said “ADI has been pleased to work on this proposal with Rep. Costello and Rep. Grijalva and we know how determined they are to protect wild animals and the public from these cruel and dangerous acts. The evidence is clear, circuses simply cannot meet the needs of these animals in small, mobile accommodation and public safety is at risk when people stand so close to the animals.”
Philanthropist and TV host of The Price Is Right Bob Barker said: “Americans are becoming increasingly aware that circus animals suffer from violent training techniques and severe confinement. Big, wild animals should not be part of the traveling circus and simply put, animal acts in circuses are antiquated and belong in the past, in a time when humans were ignorant about the needs of the other species who share our planet."
CSI actress Jorja Fox, known to 73 million viewers as CSI’s Sara Sidle, said: “Congress has a responsibility to protect the welfare of animals and ensure public safety. A prohibition on the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses is proportionate, responsible, the least expensive solution to this problem, and long overdue. We call on Congress to bring to an end, once and for all, the abuse and suffering that has been exposed by ADI time and time again.”
Reps Costello and Grijalva’s announcement came during a Washington DC screening of ADI’s multi-award winning documentary ‘Lion Ark’ the story of the dramatic rescue and relocation of 25 lions from circuses in Bolivia and their inspirational journey to freedom. The film, which also featured a Q&A with Director Tim Phillips and Producer Jan Creamer, will be shown at various movie theatres around America: http://www.lionarkthemovie.com/screenings/
It is time for the US to join the 34 nations that have taken action. Despite assurances from the circus industry, the physical and psychological health of animals in circuses is inevitably compromised. Animals in circuses are routinely subjected to brutal training methods and violence – wherever ADI has conducted an undercover investigation around the world, it has documented acts of abuse. Animal circuses do nothing to teach people about the animals’ real needs and the way they live, and have no role in education or conservation.
Earlier this year, ADI rescued over 100 animals from circuses and the illegal wildlife trade in Peru and Colombia, including lions, bears, tigers, monkeys and others. ADI and the governments of Peru and Columbia collaborated for the unprecedented Operation Spirit of Freedom campaign; animals were rehabilitated at the ADI rescue center and rehomed in their natural habitats, with 33 African lions returned to their native Africa to start a new life at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, where ADI is funding construction of their habitats and their care.
Support TEAPSPA, the bill that would secure a US wide ban.