In Historic Vote, New York City Rejects Circus Cruelty

June 22, 2017


On Wednesday, the New York City Council decided that New York will join the dozens of cities across the United States and Canada that reject the for-profit suffering of vulnerable wild animals for human entertainment. Led by the bill’s sponsor, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson, both of whom are longtime friends to animals, the Council overwhelmingly voted (43-6) to pass 1233-A to ban wild and exotic animal performances in the city.

“The ASPCA has long been opposed to using wild and exotic animals in performances such as circuses and other traveling shows due to the stress it places on the animals,” stated Michelle Villagomez, Senior NYC Legislative Director for the ASPCA. “I am grateful to Councilmembers Mendez and Johnson for their leadership in getting this important legislation passed.”  

The wild animals used in circuses, carnivals and traveling shows are routinely subjected to cruelty. They are trained using intimidation and abusive practices in order to force them to perform unnatural tricks on command, and their lives on the road are far from humane. It's not unusual for performing animals to travel in fetid railroad cars, and they are often confined in small cages or by short chains for 20 or more hours a day when not performing.

The distress these sensitive animals suffer is undeniable, but passage of 1233-A strikes a blow against the antiquated industries that seek to exploit them. The new law will go into effect on a to-be-determined date in 2018.

In related news, we are happy to report that a New York State bill introduced by Assemblymember Amy Paulin and Senator Terrence Murphy to prohibit the use of elephants in any type of entertainment recently passed the Legislature and is on its way to Governor Cuomo. A similar bill awaits approval by Governor Rauner in Illinois.

We thank our New York City advocates who emailed their councilmembers earlier this month in support of this bill. You, too, can get involved in improving laws for animals by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, a free email service that notifies you when we need your voice to help enact policy changes on the local, state and federal levels.