Circuses, animal acts, carnivals, petting zoos, and other animal exhibitors are now required to file itineraries with USDA at least 48 hours in advance if they will be keeping any of their animals off-site for one or more nights. Such itineraries must include precise details concerning the locations of and persons responsible for each animal.
This change in regulation under the Animal Welfare Act, which became effective January 30 of this year, is important. First, it lets USDA know where to find animals used for exhibition while they are on road; this is essential so that transport, housing and exhibition conditions can be assessed via unannounced inspections. In addition, if USDA receives any complaints from the public in response to a traveling exhibit, the department can readily identify the exhibitor and the animal involved. Finally the requirement for an itinerary will prevent USDA from wasting resources on unsuccessful attempts to inspect because the exhibitors and/or the animals are not where USDA believes them to be.