Cincinnati considers banning circus animals

Read the original article by David Winter at local12.com here.

It’s been two years since the “greatest show on Earth” folded its tent for good. It may soon be that way for most circuses trying to come to Cincinnati.

The city is considering banning circuses that include exotic animals in their acts.

Bo is getting gussied up for his performance at the Warren County Fairgrounds. He’s one of the performers in the Garden Brothers Circus, one of the largest traveling circuses in the country and one of about a dozen that still use exotic animals in their acts.

“The first thing you think of when somebody says ‘circus’ is an elephant, a lion,” said Ariel Valeiras with the Garden Brothers Circus.

“I’ve tried to make our country, our city, better for all living being, including animals,” said Cincinnati City Councilmember Chris Seelbach.

It’s a tradition Seelbach would like to see Cincinnati drop like a circus tent. His ordinance would change the municipal code that prohibits the ownership and display of exotic animals. The code lists specific species like elephants, apes and tigers, but the Cincinnati Zoo and visiting circuses are exempt. Seelbach wants to make circuses non-exempt.

“Banning wild animals in circuses is right on trend with what’s going on around the country,” said Rachel Mathews of PETA.

PETA was thrilled when Local 12 brought it to their attention. Six states and dozens of municipalities ban exotic animals in circuses. Cincinnati has had a long tradition of hosting circuses with exotic animals. PETA contends they may look happy, but they’re not.

Bo’s trainer says there will always be animal extremists, even those against people having pets, but he says he treats Bo better than most people treat their pets. And while Local 12 was at the circus setup Thursday, we did not witness any chains, weapons or abuse.

“They are our main priority. They are our babies. We live to take care of them,” Valeiras said.

But if Seelbach has his way, Garden Brothers and other circuses will take care of their animals and display them somewhere else.

Since 2010, a dozen circuses either stopped using animals or are out of business, like the Ringling Bros. There hasn’t been a circus with exotic animals in Cincinnati in at least two years.

The Shrine Circus is scheduled for October at Northern Kentucky’s BB&T Arena, promising tigers, elephants and camels.

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