New bill would ban exotic animals in traveling circuses
Bob Barker (right) with Rep. Jim Moran and Jorja Fox at a press conference
Watch out, Ringling Brothers and others. Congressman Jim Moran is nipping at your heels. And veteran animal protector Bob Barker was by his side on Tuesday, along with Jorja Fox, to introduce a bill that would stop the use of exotic animals in traveling circuses.
Bob Barker, who knows how to light up a room and keep the audience focused, stole the show … which is exactly what Moran wanted.
“Exotic animals cannot be healthy and can’t even approach being happy in a traveling circus,” he said in his classically paternal game show voice. “They never know a day that is really pleasurable. We all have problems, but we all have good days. These animals don’t have good days.”
The “Traveling Exotic Animal Protection Act” would comprehensively tackle the use of all exotic animals in circuses. The bill would end the keeping of animals for extended periods in temporary facilities, and the cruel training and control methods employed by circuses and address public safety issues.
“Based upon publically available research, including video and photographic evidence, it is clear that traveling circuses cannot provide the proper living conditions for exotic animals,” Moran said.
“This legislation is intended to target the most egregious situations involving exotic and wild animals in traveling circuses. Keeping elephants in chains, confining lions and tigers in small cages, forcing them to perform unnatural tricks for the sole purpose of human amusement is increasingly difficult to justify the more we learn about these intelligent, social creatures.”
Asked about the bill’s chances of being passed, Moran conceded that he’s “not extraordinarily optimistic” that that would happen anytime soon.
Feld Entertainment, the company that owns Ringling Brothers circuses, will be doing everything it can to keep elephants chained up in trucks as they drive around the country performing tricks in front of ignorant audiences. They began with a furious written statement:
“The bill is designed to censor entertainment and remove the right to let the American public choose for itself whether Ringling Bros. Circus, a 141-year old American institution, can continue to operate … Congressman Moran is busying himself with legislation that immediately threatens to end the livelihood of more than 250 families working right here in his own Congressional District for a family-owned business in order to pander instead to animal rights activists.”
Moran spokeswoman Anne Hughes said that the Congressman’s staff met with Feld’s team last week and that she was unaware of anyone being turned away from the public press conference. “This legislation is a matter of public safety and the humane treatment of animals,” she said. “If the bill puts an end to the hiring of individuals who are mistreating these intelligent and beautiful creatures, I would consider it a success.”
In an interview with Politico, Barker dismissed the notion that Ringling Bros. treat the animals with any level of respect or decency.
The animals that suffer most are the big animals,” he said. “That would be the elephants, but any animals in traveling circuses suffer terribly. The conditions are completely abnormal. In their training, they are forced to do things that they would never do naturally. They are struck with clubs … they are whipped … They [trainers] even withhold food and water to make them perform.”