S. 2028, H. 2934: An Act relative to the use of elephants, big cats, primates, and bears in traveling exhibits and shows
MSPCA Position: Support
Sponsors: Senators Bruce Tarr and James Welch; Representatives Lori Ehrlich and Bradley Jones. See co-sponsors, below.
Status: Referred to the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development; Hearing on October 22 at 11am in room B-2 at the Massachusetts State House. Learn more about the hearing.
Rally alert! Join us October 22 at 10am on the Massachusetts State House steps for a rally to speak out against traveling acts that use exotic animals, and then at 11am in room B-2 of the State House for the hearing on legislation to end this exploitation. Learn more.
RECENT NEWS: Beulah the elephant, forced to perform at The Big E Fair in West Springfield, MA for years on end, has died. Beulah was born in the wild in 1967, captured as a baby, and sold to the Commerford Zoo when she was 6 years old. She suffered from a painful foot disorder and spent most of her 54 years in captivity and in chains. Her owners have been cited by the USDA over 50 times for failing to adhere to the Animal Welfare Act.
If you think what happened to Beulah is wrong, TAKE ACTION NOW. Contact your legislators and ask them to support S. 2028/H. 2934, which would ban the use of exotic animals in traveling shows in the Commonwealth. Learn more about this tragic news.
Ask your legislators to end the use of elephants, big cats, primates, and bears in traveling shows
S. 2028/H. 2934 prohibit the use of elephants, big cats, primates, and bears in traveling shows in Massachusetts. There are many reasons that these shows should be banished from the Commonwealth.
Wild animals pose a risk to public health and safety. Hundreds of people, including scores of children, have been injured by elephants, big cats, primates, and bears used in circuses and traveling shows. See a comprehensive database of incidents here.
The use of these animals in circuses, for rides, at fairs, and in other traveling shows also subjects highly intelligent and social animals to abusive treatment and a life on the road, deprived of exercise and the ability to express even the most basic, natural behaviors. When chained and confined in small spaces and handled with pain-inflicting devices, such as electric prods and bullhooks, these animals can become dysfunctional, unhealthy, depressed, and aggressive.
While circuses are regulated by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which is enforced by the USDA, no agency monitors training sessions where the most violent abuses occur. Further, because the AWA establishes only minimum standards and fails to incorporate modern husbandry practices, a facility can be in compliance with the federal law, yet the animals can still be subjected to grossly inhumane conditions. Due to inadequate resources, the weak standards of the AWA are also poorly enforced.
More than 40 countries worldwide (including, Colombia, the entire EU, Iran, Singapore, and Taiwan), 6 U.S. states (California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island), and nearly 150 localities in 37 U.S. states have passed legislation addressing the abuse of wild or exotic animals in circuses. This includes 10 municipalities in Massachusetts: Braintree, Cambridge, Quincy, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Provincetown, Revere, Somerville, Topsfield, and Weymouth. (See the language of Massachusetts ordinances here.)
This legislation ensures that Massachusetts will no longer play a role in subjecting captive elephants, big cats, primates, and bears to inhumane traveling show conditions, and also demonstrates that the Commonwealth is serious about protecting public health from zoonotic diseases.