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MSPCA-Angell Lauds City of Cambridge for Banning Wild Animals from Circuses

Momentum for Cruelty-Free Traveling Shows Builds Across the Commonwealth

BOSTON, Feb. 24, 2016 – The MSPCA-Angell today commended the Cambridge City Council for adding its name to a growing list of Massachusetts cities and towns that have banned the display of exotic animals in circuses. The Council’s vote Monday night ensures Cambridge will not play a role in supporting acts that force wild animals to live a life in captivity, suffering in stressful, substandard and unnatural conditions.

Cambridge joins Somerville, Plymouth, Weymouth, Revere, Quincy, Braintree and Provincetown—all of which have adopted similar ordinances to ban wild animal displays.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment
The MSPCA is opposed to wild animal performances in circuses. Circus animals—including elephants, tigers, bears and other exotic animals—are forced to perform tricks wholly inconsistent with their natural behaviors. When not performing, the animals are often kept chained or constrained in small cages. Moreover, they are often subjected to barbaric training methods, including electric prods and strikes from the elephant bullhook. Few legal protections exist for these animals.

Today’s announcement by Cambridge City Council members marks the latest step toward alleviating this suffering, according to Laura Hagen, Deputy Director of Advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell. “We’re grateful to the Cambridge City Council for prioritizing the safety of the public and of these long-suffering animals who should never be forced to perform complex, unnatural behaviors but instead should be protected and revered.”

Cambridge resident Sheila Lachs expressed her thanks to the Council for valuing the lives of exotic and wild animals. “I am proud to live in a city that has taken the strong stand that we will not allow animals who already suffer so much to be displayed for entertainment,” she said.

Delcianna Winders, Academic Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Program said, “I’m proud to be part of a community that has taken a stand for the elephants, tigers, and other wild animals who endure hours and even days on end tightly chained or caged in transport and who are forced under the constant threat of punishment to perform tricks, and hope that other communities will follow in Cambridge’s footsteps.”

Stopping the Exploitation of Wild Animals

The MSPCA maintains online resources with recommendations for stopping the cruel exploitation of wild animals by circuses. Readers can click here to learn more about circus animal welfare and to find humane, animal-free circuses to attend.


The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions from individuals who care about animals. Please visit and like us on Facebook at