Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Ketchum and Blaine vote to progress wild animal circus ban

Posted: 25 April 2014. Updated: 27 June 2014

Ketchum Council and Blaine County Commissioners vote unanimously to progress banning wild animals from the circus

April 24, 2014, Blaine County, ID – Animal Defenders International (ADI) applauds the Ketchum City Council and Blaine County Commissioners for unanimously voting this week to progress separate bans on wild animals in circuses in their communities. In both nearby Idaho jurisdictions, the proposed ordinances will not be officially codified until they have completed a public process which includes more hearings of the proposals.

Five students from Sage School between grades six and nine, presented evidence to support the ordinances as a culmination of their research from an independent study group, “The Elephant Student Project.” Local ADI supporter and facilitator for the students, Maya Burrell, shared ADI’s evidence of animal abuse in circuses, scientific evidence and economic data, showing the inherent suffering and public safety issues surrounding the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.

Jan Creamer, ADI President: “We applaud the leadership of the Ketchum Councilmembers and Blaine County Commissioners for taking this important step, and are impressed with these Sage Students for empowering themselves and educating their communities to make a difference for animals. All around the world, towns, cities and national legislators are ending the use of wild animals in circuses and measures like this are how to end the suffering of elephants, lions, tigers, bears and other animals in traveling circuses.”

Ms. Burrell said: “I am so proud of these bright students and we are grateful to be able to bring the suffering of circus animals into public light. I thank each of these Councilmembers and Commissioners for standing up against this injustice with their vote to protect wild animals with a ban. Please, let us all celebrate doing the right thing and follow through to pass these amendments to our animal law.”

Once this legislation has been officially adopted, the City of Ketchum and Blaine County will join the growing number of cities and counties in the United States that have restricted wild animals in traveling circuses. Over 25 countries have now banned the use of wild animals or certain species in traveling circuses, including three in Central America, five in South America, and several in Europe. With Great Britain recently unveiling legislation, there are increasing calls for actions like that in Plymouth to be followed with a Federal ban.

Studies of the use of wild animals in traveling circuses show that circuses cannot meet the physical or behavioral needs of wild animals. Animals are confined in small spaces, deprived of physical and social needs, spending excessive amounts of time shut in transporters. These animals are often seen behaving abnormally; rocking, swaying and pacing, all indicating that they are in distress and not coping with their environment. ADI’s video evidence has shown how these animals are forced to perform tricks through physical violence, fear and intimidation.


Film and photographs of animals in circuses are available from ADI.

ADI Media Desk: 323-804-9920 e:

About 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 behind-the-scenes suffering in the industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals and educates the public.

Background – worldwide movement to end use of wild animals in traveling shows
The evidence that the suffering caused to wild animals by the constant travel, severe restrictions on movement and unnatural lifestyle has prompted authorities and governments around the world to end their use.

In the United States, 38 cities/counties in 18 states have taken action to restrict wild animals from traveling circuses. And around the world, hundreds of local ordinances are in place, including in the UK, Europe, and South America.

National restrictions on performing animals in travelling circuses, either wild or all animals, have been enacted in 27 countries – Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, and Taiwan. Similar laws are under discussion in the UK, Brazil, Chile, Malta, Mexico and The Netherlands.

Whether it is a traveling circus, or travel from county show to county show, the confinement for the animals is the same:

  • Traveling circuses cannot meet the physical, psychological or behavioral needs of wild animals, due to severe confinement, physical and social deprivation, long periods of time in transporters, with brutal control methods and physical violence.
  • It is a myth that wild animals are trained with kindness and reward; the tools of the trade include stun guns and other electric prods, metal bars, whips, bullhooks (a heavy bar with a sharpened point and hook), deprivation of food and water and intimidation.
  • Keeping stressed, large and dangerous wild animals close to the public in lightweight, temporary enclosures has proven disastrous. Workers and members of the public have been killed and maimed; lions, tigers and elephants have all escaped.
  • It is estimated that around 12% of Asian and 2% of African elephants in North America have tuberculosis (TB), a disease transmissible from elephants to humans.
  • Because of the traveling nature of the circus, animal welfare officers have difficulties with protecting the animals, inspections and associated time and costs. This justifies a restriction, for the protection of the animals and the public.
  • Circuses must change with the times. Human only circuses are thriving. Cirque du Soleil now has 19 shows in 271 cities, generating an estimated $810 million a year. Whereas the wild animal traveling show, Piccadilly Circus, recently canceled performances across Southern California due to poor ticket sales.
  • Circus workers perform multiple roles; staff can be retrained, so jobs are not lost. Circus Vargas removed their animal acts and the business continues. Surveys have shown that a decline in animal circuses can be matched by a rise in circuses with human performers.

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