Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

US bill to ban wild animals in circuses now in both House AND Senate!

Posted: 16 November 2016. Updated: 16 July 2019


Animal Defenders International (ADI) applauds Reps Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ) on their introduction of the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA; HR2863), 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 provided evidence and assistance on the bill, which was introduced on May 21, 2019 and 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 32 states in the US, 92 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, 45 nations have also taken action and ended wild animal performances.

On July 15, 2019, a companion bill, S2121, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Menendez, and cosponsored by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

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 (HR2863) 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.

Representatives Grijalva and Schweikert and ADI President Jan Creamer spoke to announce the launch at a livestream event in Washington, DC, on May 21, 2019, which included a screening of The Reluctant Entertainers short film, in which celebrities urge Congress to ‘leave the entertaining to those of us who want to perform.’

ADI President Jan Creamer said: “The evidence is clear: animals in traveling circuses suffer. America is taking a stand against this, passing an increasing number of local and state bans, but we can and must do more. With the introduction of TEAPSPA in Congress, we have a chance now to stop circus suffering nationwide – so let’s do this!”

Representative Grijalva announced: “Traveling animal acts deprive exotic and wild animals of their basic dignity and create a safety hazard for the general public. This legislation updates our antiquated animal welfare laws and prohibits traveling circuses from holding exotic animals such as lions, tigers, and elephants in captivity. Thanks to the tireless work of advocates, dozens of localities across the US have already acted to protect exotic and wild animals by banning traveling performances. It is time for Congress to do the same.”

Representative Schweikert stated: “As a native of the Southwest, seeing exotic animals roam free is something Arizonans cherish. By continuing to educate the public about the dangerous travel practices some animals must endure, we can put an end to these torturous and harmful conditions and help maintain the beauty of our wild animals.”

Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix: “The way animals are treated as mere objects of entertainment, beaten and bullied into performing circus acts, is disgraceful. Please help them today. Join me in backing Animal Defenders International’s call for a ban on wild animal circus acts throughout the United States.”

Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais: “Animals have their spirits broken, beaten out of them, in order to entertain humans in circuses. It is heartbreakingly cruel and humiliating, it belongs to our ignorant past. TEAPSPA will bring an end to this suffering. That’s why I support it. Join me and give performing animals their freedom.”

Award-winning musician Moby: “Animals are living, breathing, sentient beings who have a right to live their lives peacefully. They are not here for our entertainment. The time to say ‘no’ to circus suffering is now – and certainly long overdue.”

Oscar-nominated actor James Cromwell: “There is nothing natural about the life of a circus animal. These majestic wild creatures deserve lives that are free from pain and suffering, and together we can make it happen. Join me in supporting Animal Defenders International and the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act.”


Celebrity support from previous launches:

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.”


It is time for the US to join the 45 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.
Support TEAPSPA, the bill that would secure a US wide ban.

Watch the live streamed media event to mark the bill launch

© Animal Defenders International 2019