It’s not news that circuses aren’t exactly bastions of animal conservation. They profit off of wild animals performing under duress, and even though we’re sure the majority of circuses truly believe that they’re treating the animals as humanely as they can under the circumstances, there is still no reality where elephants and lions are happy or comfortable spending 96% of their lives in cages and box cars—not to mention the questionable training techniques.
So we were thrilled to hear that Los Angeles has officially banned the use of wild animals in entertainment. Councilmember David Ryu’s motion will affect circuses, wild animal exhibitions, and rentals for house parties. It will not affect zoos that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
These types of regulations do make a difference: After more than 100 years in operation, The Ringling Bros. circus is closing down for good this year. The circus cited dwindling ticket sales after removing elephant acts from their routine due to public backlash.
Other cities in the U.S. have taken similar steps, but Los Angeles is by far the largest municipality to take such a stance thus far. The move sends a particularly strong message, considering L.A. is one of the biggest entertainment hubs in the entire world. (New York City Council had a similar bill drafted at the end of 2016, but it has yet to be approved.)
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