Breaking news: New York City bans use of wild animals in circuses

By on June 21, 2017 with 15 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Following the lead of Los Angeles – which took the same action two months ago – the New York City Council, the lawmaking body for the City of New York’s eight million residents, voted today to ban wild animal acts in circuses (after a one-year phase-in). The New York City Council embraced the policy in a commanding vote of 43 to 6, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, a staunch animal advocate, says he looks forward to signing this legislation.

The council’s policy provides more evidence of the startling turnaround on this category of animal use since March 2015, when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced it would end the use of elephants in circus acts. The famed circus had been the political protector of animal-based circuses, but relinquished that role when it started to unwind its animal acts. Ringling Bros. shuttered the circus last month, after 146 years of performances in the United States.

New York City Council Member Rosie Mendez spearheaded the push for 1233-A. She fought this battle for 11 years, and this year she got a major assist from Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson. The HSUS and the newly formed Empire State Humane Voters led the charge for the bill from the outside. Both groups had the support of a large coalition of animal protection organizations and grassroots advocates.

“This legislation will ensure that animals are in their natural state, not confined in small boxcars and/or treated in other inhumane ways. Equally important, human beings will be safe from animals that may act ferociously,” Councilwoman Mendez said after the vote.

While Ringling is out of the business, there are a number of smaller traveling circuses that often lease the use of elephants, tigers, and other animals in these moving menageries. Last month,The HSUS conducted an undercover investigation of a tiger trainer who rents out his circus act to a number of traveling circuses, providing a clear look at the coercive training techniques that cause these majestic animals to cower and moan, their frequent intensive confinement, and the grueling travel they typically endure. Lawmakers and the public have come to see that these animals are victims, not willing performers.

The momentum on this front continues. On June 6, the New York state legislature passed the Elephant Protection Act, which would prohibit the use of elephants in traveling shows. Gov. Andrew Cuomo can sign it soon. A similar bill in Illinois awaits Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature. Recently, legislation also passed in cities and/or counties in Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, and Ohio. Four states and more than 125 localities in 34 states have passed restrictions or prohibitions on the use of wild animals in circuses and traveling shows. “We now know more about the proper treatment of wild and exotic animals than we did in the past. Entertainment alone is not an excuse to put these animals through more than they ever should have to endure,” added Council Member Corey Johnson.

In the wake of New York City’s vote, we will continue to see the adoption of policies to forbid wild animal acts. Meanwhile, more people interested in acrobatics and other forms of arena entertainment can buy tickets for Cirque du Soleil and other enterprises using talented and willing human performers. There, you can experience the pleasure of awe-inspiring performances and know that you’ve not sustained an ounce of animal cruelty in the process.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Karen Norton says:

    These lions and all other animals have suffered way to long in these circuses . Their beatened so much , probed in the most tender spots. Enough is Enough, time to send ALL of them to Sanctuary’s ! No more tricks or cancer tests or whatever, nor send to different circuses! STOP THIS HORRIBLE ABUSE NOW!

  2. Sally Upshaw Smith says:

    These animals don’t deserved to be caged up and then forced to perform at circuses. Please make this ban permanent!

  3. Kim Dijkman says:

    the focus needs to be on where these animals will go to next
    Ringling circus sold their elephants to a cancer research centre, and the tigers are going to a circus in germany

  4. Marisol Mendoza says:

    Thanks New York for saving these poor animals, may the rest of the world do the same really soon.

  5. Caroline Van de Vivere says:

    Stop cruelty

  6. Marina Tourneur says:

    Please stop !

  7. Katharine says:

    At the last minute this bill excluded any wild animals used in performances for tv and film, effectively becoming only a ban on circuses. This isn’t much of a victory and wild species will continue to be used for entertainment, traveling long distances, housed in crates in hotel rooms or in trailers for transport. It ended up affecting a total of 2 regular circus operations. Why did this change? Don’t those animals deserve the same ???

  8. Barbara says:

    My god, won’t cruelty ever end? Why, oh, why can’t man entertain himself/herself without hurting, enslaving animals? Why can’t people and legislators see that animals are part of our world and we are all on this planet together……they are not beneath us…they are just a different life form….what’s wrong with that??

  9. Barbara says:

    I’m glad to hear it…..many things start small…..but I, too, wonder what happens to the elephants owned by Ringling? Why can’t humans entertain themselves without harming/enslaving animals?

    • Barbara says:

      I’m glad to hear it….many things start small…..But I wonder, too, what will happen to the Ringling elephants? Why can’t humans entertain themselves without harming/enslaving animals??

  10. Suzanne DeBrango says:

    I live in NYC and although this is a wonderful win for animals Mayor Deblasio is no friend or advocate for animals. The deplorable conditions of city run shelters is heartbreaking and the euthanasia rate is staggering. Thank you Humane Society for your great work for the voiceless and exploited but I wish you would explore the horrific abuse in city run shelters in NYC!

  11. K says:

    Amazing news. I can’t thank you enough, everyone who worked on this.

  12. Corinne Hayes says:

    What is astonishing is that a human being can feel it is right and is willing to treat these wonderful animals horrifically. I hope that in my lifetime, I will witness the end of any animal being used for the entertainment of people and that wild animals must be able to live their life in their natural habitat. For those who abuse any pet, they should serve a long prison sentence.

  13. Michelle says:

    I’m very happy now get a ban on shooting animals for sport.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.