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Bill To Ban Elephants, Tigers In California Circuses Moving Ahead In State Legislature

Bill Damon / Flickr

Circuses in California would be banned from using bears, tigers, elephants and other wild animals under one of several animal protection bills moving ahead at the Capitol.

Many cities and countries have already prohibited wild animals in circuses due to animal cruelty concerns. The measure, Senate Bill 313, would include an exception for domestic cats, dogs and horses.

“The lifestyle is being in a cage, being transported from place to place, being chained and being beaten to do these tricks,” said Judie Mancuso, president and founder of the animal advocacy group Social Compassion in Legislation. “So, it’s just a horrible thing and it’s something that is really going out of style.” 

Mancuso said the ban would apply mostly to circuses visiting California, as some in-state have already eliminated the use of wild animals. SB 313 was introduced by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego.

The Southwest California Legislative Council, a business coalition in Riverside County, opposes the bill, saying it would drive jobs out of state.

“In yet another nod to pressure from activist groups, millions of California youth will no longer be able to experience the thrill of a circus performance featuring beautiful, well cared for animals,” the business group said, according to an Assembly bill analysis.  

In May, the Senate approved the measure 34 to 0. Two Assembly committees passed it last month. It heads next to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

Three other animal protection bills are also moving forward: 

  • SB 64 by Sen. Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, would require all municipal shelters to microchip any dog or cat that is adopted or claimed by a pet owner. It was approved in the Senate without opposition, and has advanced to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
  • SB 202 by Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Lancaster, would address the shortage of animal blood used by veterinarians in life-saving transfusions by allowing the commercial use of blood from community-sourced animal donors. It's been approved by the Senate and has cleared its first Assembly committee. 
  • AB 1260 by Asm. Brian Maienschein, D-San Diego, would expand a list of banned animal skins. California already prohibits importing commercial skins for big cats, polar bears, dolphins and others. This would add hippopotami, caiman and several lizards to that list. The Assembly passed it 63 to 12, and it has cleared its first committee in the Senate.
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