PAWS Magazine

Issue 43, Fall 1999

Seattle mayor supports ban on using exotic animals in circuses

Seattle's Mayor Paul Schell recently made news by supporting a proposed ban on using exotic animals for public performances. While Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, many municipal jurisdictions in British Columbia, and U.S. cities have restrictions and bans in place for such acts, Seattle would be the first major city to adopt such a ban.

Citizens for Cruelty-Free Entertainment cites animal welfare, public safety, and a negative educational message as the primary concerns for discontinuing wild animal acts and displays. Over 450 individuals, veterinarians, local businesses and organizations, such as PAWS, have endorsed the proposed ban. Diane Venberg, PAWS performing animal advocate, is encouraging businesses, religious organizations, or children's groups to contact her to be added to the endorsement list (Venberg can be reached at 425-787-2500 ext. 257).

According to Ellen Leach, animal behaviorist, animal cruelty is often evidenced in abusive training methods, such as food deprivation, electric shocks, and fear and domination. Elephants suffer beatings from ax handles, shovels, and bullhooks. United States Department of Agriculture reports and firsthand testimony from former trainers often document these acts.

The emotional scars from being chained or caged virtually all of their lives may cause animals to display increased aggression, self-mutilation, and despondency. Since 1990, 45 people have been killed by captive elephants, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. An additional public risk factor from elephants is contagious tuberculosis, which may be passed from elephant to human. In 1996, Circus Vargas forced two sick elephants to continue giving rides to children up until just a few days before the elephants collapsed and died.

"The true image of wildlife is seriously and deliberately destroyed in the circus," said David Hancocks, former director of the Woodland Park Zoo. Animals released from circuses could go to wildlife sanctuaries throughout the country. Any facility accredited by the American Zoological Association, like Seattle's zoo and aquarium, as well as all domestic animal events and petting zoos, would be exempt.

There are wonderful non-animal circuses, such as Cirque de Soleil and The New Pickle Family Circus to patronize.

Show your support!

Write Mayor Schell and the Seattle City Council a polite letter of support today. lf you send a letter, send PAWS a copy too (PO Box 1037, Lynnwood, WA, 98046, attn: Diane Venberg).

Mayor Paul Schell Municipal Building 600 4th Avenue, 12th Floor Seattle, WA 98104-1876

Seattle City Council Municipal Building 600 4th Avenue, 11th floor Seattle, WA, 98104-1876

Volunteers are being sought in the coming months to help with community outreach. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Diane Venberg at (425) 787-2500 ext. 257.

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