Cincinnati bans exotic animals in circuses

Read the original article by Maia Anderson at here.

Cincinnati City Council on Thursday voted 7-1 to ban exotic animals from circuses. 

The city already restricts people from owning or displaying wild or potentially dangerous animals. It exempts certain organizations from this rule, including zoos and, until now, circuses. 

Councilman Chris Seelbach introduced the ordinance, concerned over what he believes is inhumane treatment of the animals.

“In order to stay profitable, circuses must tour so intensely,” said Jon Harmon, Seelbach’s chief of staff. “The moment the show is over animals are returned to their cages, which are so small, and put on a train and are traveling so long that they go out and do the show and go right back into the cage.”

Several states and cities have passed legislation to prevent circuses from using exotic animals in their shows, including New Jersey and Hawaii. California also voted recently to outlaw use of circus animals.

Seelbach said his legislation does not ban all circuses from Cincinnati, just the ones that use animals. Cincinnati Circus, a Golf Manor-based ocal entertainment company that features circus acts, does not use animals in their shows. 

Backers of the ban say the circus animals should be treated with the same respect and care as humans. 

“These animals are majestic creatures,” said Stacy Adkins, 49, of Corryville. “They’re reduced to nothing more than spectacles. These are living beings that have feelings.” 

Councilwoman Amy Murray was the only member to vote no on the ban. Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman was absent. The new ordinance makes the use of exotic animals in a circus act a misdemeanor in Cincinnati. 

UniverSoul, a circus that features performers from various minority groups and promotes cultural diversity, has performed in Cincinnati every year since 1999 and uses exotic animals.  The circus released a statement  on their website asking Cincinnati citizens to call council members and ask them to vote no on Seelbach’s ordinance.   

“UniverSoul Circus animal acts have top tier caretakers and trainers, are regularly examined by several independent licensed veterinarians, seen by multiple animal health & welfare inspectors, meet the requirements of dozens of city, county and state agencies across the country, and are properly licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),” the statement said.

The council decided to allow the use of camels and zebras in circus acts until 2020, giving UniverSoul time to change their act to allow them to continue their annual performances. UniverSoul agreed to this deal, but according to social advocate Iris Roley, they do not support the ban on the animals.

“What people don’t know is when the circus comes to the city all the jobs that are offered, interactions with children and the police, all of the services that come to the city,” Roley said. “It’s more than just animals and animal acts in the circus.”

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