Snakes, lions, elephants, birds and other exotic animals would be banned from being displayed or rented out for entertainment purposes by circuses and other businesses in a motion approved by a Los Angeles City Council committee.
Councilman David Ryu introduced the motion last year. If approved by the full council, it would essentially shut down any live shows, parties, festivals or street performers who use exotic animals. Accredited zoos, such as the Los Angeles Zoo, would be exempted, as would the use of animals for filming, research purposes and conservation presentations.
Ryu said in November that the issue first came to his attention through his efforts to crack down on lavish house parties in the Hollywood Hills where animals are sometimes put in cages as entertainment for guests.
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"This use and misuse of wild and exotic animals for personal or public entertainment and financial gain has a long and unfortunate history," the motion says. "The practice has led to tremendous pain for these animals who often suffer from loneliness, malnutrition and the overwhelming stress of lengthy confinements during transport. Further, to get animals to perform 'tricks' and other acts unnatural to them, handlers have been repeatedly shown to use inhumane training techniques."
The proposed ordinance would force Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which usually books space at Staples Center yearly, out of the city limits, a spokesman for the company said in November. The company announced in January that it was closing for good this year, but the motion would also stop any other circus that uses animals from opening within the city.
Los Angeles banned the use of bullhooks as training tools on elephants in 2014, which helped prompt Ringling Bros. to phase out elephants from its traveling show in 2015. When the company announced it was closing, officials said the loss of elephants from its act caused ticket sales to decline dramatically.
The motion was considered Wednesday by the City Council's Personnel & Animal Welfare Committee and approved without objection. The full City Council is expected to hear it in the next few weeks.