Following the lead of Los Angeles – which took the same action two months ago – the New York City Council, the lawmaking body for the City of New York’s eight million residents, voted today to ban wild animal acts in circuses (after a one-year phase-in). The New York City Council embraced the policy in a commanding vote of 43 to 6, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, a staunch animal advocate, says he looks forward to signing this legislation.
The council’s policy provides more evidence of the startling turnaround on this category of animal use since March 2015, when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced it would end the use of elephants in circus acts. The famed circus had been the political protector of animal-based circuses, but relinquished that role when it started to unwind its animal acts. Ringling Bros. shuttered the circus last month, after 146 years of performances in the United States.
New York City Council Member Rosie Mendez spearheaded the push for 1233-A. She fought this battle for 11 years, and this year she got a major assist from Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson. The HSUS and the newly formed Empire State Humane Voters led the charge for the bill from the outside. Both groups had the support of a large coalition of animal protection organizations and grassroots advocates.
“This legislation will ensure that animals are in their natural state, not confined in small boxcars and/or treated in other inhumane ways. Equally important, human beings will be safe from animals that may act ferociously,” Councilwoman Mendez said after the vote.