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MSPCA-Angell Lauds Pittsfield City Council for Banning Wild Animals from Circuses

Momentum for Cruelty-Free Traveling Shows Expands to Western Massachusetts

BOSTON, Aug. 10, 2016 – The MSPCA-Angell today commended the Pittsfield City Council for becoming the latest Massachusetts city to ban the display of exotic animals in circuses. The Council’s vote yesterday ensures Pittsfield will never again support acts that force wild animals to live a life in captivity while suffering in stressful, substandard and unnatural conditions.

Pittsfield—the largest city and the county seat of Berkshire County—joins Cambridge, Somerville, Plymouth, Weymouth, Revere, Quincy, Braintree and Provincetown—which have all adopted similar ordinances to ban wild animal displays.

“The citizens of Pittsfield were extraordinarily clear in their support for this common sense change to our laws,” said Councilor John Krol.  “We know that isolating and confining these animals for long periods of time is inhumane and our city made a strong stand to say we will not support such practices.  I’m proud of our progressive, compassionate city for making this powerful statement and I hope other communities will follow suit.  While opponents of the change cite the lost opportunity for children to see circus animals, I believe children are particularly saddened at the poor treatment of these wonderful animals.  We can celebrate and learn about these animals in far better ways; our community did the right thing and I’m proud to be part of it.”

Cruel and Unusual Punishment
The MSPCA is opposed to wild animal performances in circuses because the animals—including elephants, tigers and bears—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.

“Our work to protect animals in Berkshire County has for many years spanned humane education, political action and advocacy, so it’s particularly rewarding when elected officials hear and respond to the community’s demands for reform,” said Leslie Luppino of Berkshire Voters for Animals.  “I thank the City Council for its leadership on this important issue and I hope other cities and towns in our region are inspired to similarly protect animals.”

The decision by the Pittsfield City Council is the latest in a series of steps Massachusetts cities and towns are taking to alleviate this suffering.  “Pittsfield has joined a growing club of large and influential cities that have prioritized protection for wild animals over short-term profits and we thank the council members for their vote,” said Laura Hagen, deputy director of Advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell.

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