By Lauren Lewis –
July 16, 2019
Yesterday, United States Senator Bob Menendez introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safely Protection Act (HR 2863) to prohibit the use of exotic or wild animals in public performances such as circuses, carnivals and parades. The legislation, which nationalizes New Jersey’s first-in-the-nation state ban issued last year, is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Cory Booker.
“Animals are living, breathing, and feeling beings that deserve to grow and thrive in their natural habitat or protected sanctuaries, not to be exploited to perform tricks in someone’s sideshow under cruel conditions,” Senator Menendez said in a statement. “The entire nation should follow New Jersey by doing what’s humane and right for these wild creatures.”
Wild animals used in public performances are typically subjected to small cages, physical abuse, and poor nutrition and hygiene, which can often lead to disease, infection, mental distress and depression. The unpredictability of wild animals also poses a threat to public safety.
“New Jersey has illustrated that the exploitative use of exotic animals in traveling performances is antiquated and no longer has a place in our society,” noted 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker, who is also a longtime vegan. “By following in New Jersey’s footsteps, this bill would remove wild animals such as lions, tigers and elephants from harsh conditions and provide protections for workers and the public.”
Last year, New Jersey became the first state in the country to prohibit wild animals in traveling performances. The state bill had overwhelming bipartisan support in the state legislature. Rhode Island, Illinois, New York and Hawaii have since passed similar legislation.
The Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act would not apply to the use of animals in zoos or aquariums, research facilities, and certain films, television programs, or advertising. Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.-03) introduced companion legislation in the House.
Peace 4 Animals and World Animal News are among numerous animal welfare organizations in a coalition organized by Animal Defenders International fighting to end the use of wild animals in circuses.