On Monday, the California State Senate voted 34-0 to approve a bill that would make it illegal to use or allow the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling acts.
Introduced in February, the Circus Cruelty Prevention Act (Senate Bill No. 313), authored by State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), recognizes both the animal welfare concerns, and public safety concerns of circuses and other traveling shows that force wild or exotic animals to perform.
“Wild animals used in circuses endure cruel training, near-constant confinement, and are deprived of their natural habitat,” said Sen. Hueso. “We cannot allow this type of abuse to occur in California. This bill will ensure that these beautiful creatures are not exploited or cruelly treated within our state.”
According to the Legislative Counsels Digest, this bill would prohibit a person from sponsoring, conducting, operating, or participating in a circus, as defined, in this state that uses any animal other than a domestic dog, domestic cat, or horse. The bill would authorize the Department of Fish and Wildlife to assess a civil penalty against a person who violates this prohibition of no more than $25,000 for each day the person is in violation of the prohibition.
The bill was clear and said the term “circus” does not include “rodeo” and rodeos are not included in the ban.
According to Hueso’s February 15 Press Release when the bill was introduced, he says dozens of localities in at least 36 states restrict the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses. In 2018, New Jersey and Hawaii became the first states to ban the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses, and similar legislation is being considered in Illinois, New York, Massachusetts – and now California.
Local governments throughout California have already implemented bans or restrictions on the use of wild animals in circuses and/or traveling acts, including Corona, Encinitas, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Los Angeles, Marin County, Oakland, Pasadena, Rohnert Park, Santa Ana, and West Hollywood.
SB 313 is sponsored by Social Compassion in Legislation and PETA. PETA released the following statement Monday by PETA Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews after the 34-0 vote:
California’s lawmakers are recognizing that no elephant should be chained in a parking lot, no tiger should be caged in a cramped trailer, and no camel should be whipped into performing tricks. A kinder California is on the way, and PETA looks forward to seeing this progressive bill advance through the State Assembly and be signed into law.
The legislation moves on to the State Assembly.