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Welfare Concerns Limit Exotic Animals in Traveling Shows


According to a December 19th article in the Philadelphia Enquirer New Jersey will ban elephants and other exotic animals from traveling performances. It is expected that restrictions placed by Rhode Island and California on handling of exotic show animals will be expanded to an outright ban with New York and Illinois already prohibiting the use of elephants. One hundred local municipalities have banned elephants or exotic species.

Representative Dwight Evans (D-PA) has introduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act which would prohibit wild and exotic traveling shows nationwide. The New Jersey legislation was the subject of a pocket veto by outgoing Governor Chris Christie. Under the Murphy Administration the state senate passed the bill 36 to 0 in October and the Assembly approved it 71 to 3. There have been a number of incidents of injury to circus workers and spectators and inadvertent release of animals in urban areas.

Following extensive litigation, in May 2016 Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey retired touring elephants to a conservation center.

The New Jersey legislation was hailed by animal welfare groups including the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Defenders International Group in Los Angeles and Animal Welfare Institute.