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Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act rolls back into town again

Performing elephants - natural behavior or not?
Performing elephants - natural behavior or not?
Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt

U.S. Representative Jim Moran (D), Virginia, has brought back the Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act again this year. Previously introduced in 2011, the bill died after referred to committee.

The new introduction on April 30, 2014, is another attempt to ban the use of exotic animals in mobile circuses due to claimed unavoidable suffering and having to perform unnatural acts.

Many circuses use natural behaviors with rewards for specific behavior, causing the desired result which does not fit the criteria for an attempt to ban use of exotic animals in a circus. It is apparent conflict amongst circus and activists exists, which keeps being rehashed through legislative channels.

The cost associated with such legislation and the loss of a viable industry are also considerations in any proposed bill. A close watch of the bill often shows stark differences in opinion versus fact. Certainly something to keep an eye on for all concerned and interested.

The findings listed in the previous bill state:

"Congress finds that—


traveling circuses are detrimental to animal welfare due to the adverse effects of captivity and transport;


due to severe confinement, lack of free exercise, and the restriction of natural behaviors, animals used in circuses suffer and are prone to health, behavioral, and psychological problems;


the tricks that exotic and non-domesticated animals are forced to perform require extreme physical coercion techniques, including the restriction of food, the use of elephant hooks (objects used to control and punish elephants), electric shocks, metal bars, whips, and other forms of physical abuse;


the welfare of animals subject to the conditions in traveling circuses, such as constant travel, limited facilities, long periods of restriction of movement, stress, and physical coercion, will inevitably be compromised, which can lead to increased risks to public safety;


animals in traveling circuses pose an additional risk to public safety because such animals have wild instincts and needs and have demonstrated unpredictability;


the use of collapsible, temporary facilities in traveling circuses increases the risk of escaping exotic and non-domesticated animals seriously harming workers and the public;


traveling circuses bring people dangerously close to exotic and non-domesticated animals by displaying animals in inappropriate, uncontrolled areas that are not suited for the exhibition of such animals;


it is not possible to provide exotic and non-domesticated animals with facilities sufficient to maintain the optimum physical and mental health of the animals because of the suffering caused to the animals by the nature of circuses, in which restriction of movement, separation from natural groupings, restriction of food and water, and physical abuse are prevalent;


due to the mobile and transitory nature of traveling circuses, law enforcement authorities cannot properly monitor the conditions of the animals or follow up on previous infractions by traveling circuses; and


restricting the use of exotic and non-domesticated animals in circuses is the most cost-effective and efficient way to safeguard both animal welfare and public safety."

Currently, there is a move by animal rights organizations across the country to impose certain beliefs upon the general public. Whether this is considered morally correct, fact or fiction, against Constitutional rights, some other variation or another dead bill remains to be seen.

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