Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Bob Barker, Jorja Fox and animal protection groups launch ‘Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act'

Posted: 2 November 2011. Updated: 2 November 2011

‘Historic Bill to end cruelty to wild animals in circuses’

Washington DC, Nov. 02, 2011 – Today on Capitol Hill, renowned celebrity animal protectionists Bob Barker and Jorja Fox will join Animal Defenders International (ADI), the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and members of Congress to launch a Bill that will change the way in which animals are used in the name of entertainment in the USA.

The Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act (TEAPA) is a historic first for the U.S., and this Bill, which has attracted bipartisan support and been sponsored by Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va), aims to restrict the use of exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses, effectively bringing to an end the random cruelty and neglect associated with circuses of this nature. It is the first bill to comprehensively tackle the use of all wild animals in US circuses ever to be launched in the U.S.

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 73million 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.”

Congressman Moran said: "Keeping elephants in chains, confining wild animals like lions and tigers in small cages, and forcing them to perform unnatural tricks for the sole purpose of human amusement is increasingly difficult to justify the more we learn about these intelligent, social creatures.”

A new video to be screened at the launch entitled ‘In the United States today...’ features footage from circuses including violence, confinement and deprivation. The Bill is supported by a series of Congressional ADI Briefings, which cover key issues such as ‘Public Health & Safety’, ‘Enforcement’, ‘Captivity & Transport’, ‘Control and Violence’, ‘TB’ and ‘Economics’. This provides overwhelming evidence to support the reasons that it is time for the US to move forward with other countries that are now taking action – the US needs to restrict the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.
Careful research and detailed undercover investigations in U.S. traveling circuses have shown the welfare of animals is unacceptably compromised as the animals endure confinement, physical and social deprivation, long, arduous journeys, brutal control methods and physical violence. The training tools of the circus trade include bullhooks, electric prods, and whips.

Large animals like lions and tigers spend their lives cramped in small cages, and elephants are forced to live chained by one or more legs for hours on end. In addition, traveling circuses pose a serious threat to public safety, as the keeping of wild, stressed animals in dangerously close proximity to the public is a recipe for disaster. Incidents of circus workers and members of the public having been killed and maimed by circus animals are well documented.

ADI’s evidence shows how law enforcement authorities have difficulty enforcing Federal animal health, safety, and welfare laws, and violations due to the mobile and transitory nature of traveling circuses.

Jan Creamer, ADI’s President said: “This is a historic day, this is about America standing up and saying these magnificent animals should not be abused in the name of entertainment. The days of animals suffering in traveling circuses are numbered not just here in the US but all over the world. Due to severe confinement, lack of free exercise, and the restriction of natural behaviors, animals used in traveling circuses suffer and are prone to health, behavioral, and psychological problems.

“With the support of Bob Barker, ADI has exposed, time and again, that the use of violence to control animals is part of circus culture. In the U.S. we have seen animals beaten, whipped and electric shocked to make them perform tricks. We have shown that welfare and public safety are unacceptably compromised in traveling circuses. This brutality now needs to stop – for good.”

Ed Stewart from PAWS said: “Bob Barker and PAWS have advocated for performing animals for many years. We have witnessed the conditions in which they live and the physical and psychological damage they have endured. Mr. Barker has personally funded the peaceful retirement of numerous ex-circus animals to sanctuaries. It is time that we as a civilized nation stop the frivolous use of exotic animals in demeaning performances. The Show Must Not Go On."

Dr Mel Richardson, ADI Veterinarian, who will be providing a veterinary perspective at the launch today said: "As a veterinarian with more than 40 years of experience caring for captive wild animals, I can say unequivocally that these animals suffer."

In February this year, ADI completed a mission that removed every circus animal from Bolivia after securing an animal circus ban there. This included flying 25 lions to Colorado and 4 to California to safe homes. Bolivia has the most progressive law in the world, but turned to American compassion to help the animals. ADI and PAWS believe the Bill will have massive popular support in the US.

Similar measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have already been adopted in Bolivia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Peru, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, India and other countries and similar laws are being discussed in the UK, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Greece.

These countries have looked at the evidence and listened to the will of the people and done the right thing for animal welfare by implementing bans. It is now time that the U.S. did the same.

ENDS

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Note to Editors:

Video footage, visuals and interview opportunities are available upon request.

For further information please contact:
Gary Smith: Cell: 818-618-3777 & 818-783-0569
Amanda Hudson and Matt Rossell – Press cell: 323 804 9920
gary@evolotuspr.com

Animal Defenders International
6100 Wilshire Blvd. #1150
Los Angeles, CA 90048
T: 323 935 2234
Amanda Hudson and Matt Rossell – Press cell: 323 804 9920
amandahudson@ad-international.org
mattrossell@ad-international.org

Animal Defenders International
With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues.
http://www.adiusa.org
http://www.ad-international.org/animals_in_entertainment

Performing Animal Welfare Society
PAWS operate three captive wildlife sanctuaries in California, providing lifetime care for hundreds of exotic animals. Having worked inside the performing animal industry and now specializing in the care of abused, abandoned or retired performing animals, the PAWS founders are acknowledged experts on the impacts on these animals and the suffering they endure in the name of entertainment. They provide expert testimony in criminal and agency investigations and also provide expertise to wildlife agencies, Congress, State Legislatures, and city and county hearings across the United States.
http://www.pawsweb.org

  • ADI estimates (conservatively) that there are currently around 300 exotic/wild animals with US circuses.
  • There are currently around 18 non-animal circuses (human-only performances).
  • City/county ordinances that restrict animals from traveling circuses:

CA: Corona, Encinitas, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Marin County, Pasadena, Rohnert Park, Santa Ana; CO, Boulder; CT, Stamford; FL, Hollywood; Pompano Beach; Tallahassee, Clearwater; IL, Collinsville; GA, Fulton; MA, Braintree, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, Weymouth; MO, Richmond; NC, Orange County, Chapel Hill; NY, Greenburgh, Southampton; SC, Chester; TX, Simonton; VT, Burlington; WA, Port Townsend, Redmond; WI, Green Bay.

ADI celebrity supporters include:
ADI’s ‘Stop Circus Suffering Campaign’ has attracted celebrity support and endorsement in the U.S. from Jorja Fox, Bob Barker, Corey and Suzy Feldman, Alicia Silverstone, Belinda Carlisle and Kim Basinger, and further afield from Ricky Gervais, Sir Paul McCartney, Brian May and Twiggy. ADI’s investigation of traveling circuses in the U.S., produced a report entitled ‘Animals in travelling circuses’ (2008) and received widespread support, encouraging many local municipalities to restrict animal circuses from their jurisdiction.

Recent incidents in the US demonstrate that travelling circuses pose a serious threat to public safety:

  • In February 2010, a zebra escaped from Ringling Brothers in Atlanta and ran into the city. Police had to chase it for 40 minutes until it was recaptured on a busy interstate. A few weeks later, the animal was euthanized. Two weeks earlier, during a pre-show at the same circus in South Carolina, an elephant broke through a main door and ran into the arena. It was reported that there were about 100 people on the floor.
  • April 27, 2010/Lynchburg, Virginia: An elephant named Viola escaped from the Cole Bros. Circus. She bolted directly past a line of people waiting to buy tickets, sending some running toward the parking lot. Viola injured her shoulder and broke a toenail when she slid in the mud and fell into a steep ravine. She was on the loose for approximately 30 minutes.
  • April 9, 2010/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania: An animal handler with the Hamid Circus was kicked and thrown about 20 feet by an African elephant named Dumbo at Irem Shrine Circus. The handler died at the scene from multiple traumatic injuries. The elephant had been leased from Joe Frisco’s Wonderful World of Animals.
  • On November 4, 2009, an elephant escaped from the Family Fun Circus in Enid, Oklahoma and was struck by an SUV on US Interstate 81.
  • February 6, 2010/Columbia, South Carolina: According to The State, “A startled elephant took a wrong turn backstage and broke through the main prop door leading into the Colonial Life Arena during the afternoon pre-show for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus …. . . . About 100 spectators on the floor watching the pre-show saw the elephant break through the door toward them and rumble around the performance area, just a few feet away.”
  • March 7, 2009/Indianapolis, Indiana: At least 15 children and one adult were injured when an elephant who was being used to give rides at the Murat Shrine Circus became startled, stumbling and knocking over the scaffolding stairway leading to the elephant ride. People on the elephant’s back and others standing on, under, and around the scaffolding were injured. Their injuries were treated on the scene. The Shriners had leased the elephant from exhibitor Will Davenport, dba Maximus Tons of Fun.
  • March 13, 2009/Fruitland Park, Florida: A spider monkey named Reggie escaped from the Liebling Family Circus
  • In March 2008, three zebras with Ringling Brothers Circus in Baltimore escaped from their temporary enclosure and ran onto the traffic lanes.
  • A lifelong animal trainer was clawed by a tiger during a performance at Hadi Shrine Circus in Indiana in November 2006. The trainer suffered serious injuries to his hand and leg.


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