Circuses No Place for Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and David Schweikert (R-AZ) have reintroduced the Traveling Exotic Animal and Public Safety Protection Act (TEAPSPA), which would amend the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit the use of exotic animals in traveling shows.

Animals in such shows often suffer enormously. They are denied the opportunity to fulfill basic physical and social needs, forced to spend endless hours in transit inside cramped trailers and train cars, and subjected to abusive training methods. Animals kept in such conditions frequently exhibit “zoochosis”—stereotypic behaviors such as rocking, swaying, pacing, and self-mutilation that indicate extreme mental distress.

Circuses also pose a hazard to the public by bringing people dangerously close to incredibly strong, stressed, and unpredictable wild animals, often with little or no effective barriers between them. There are numerous documented instances of animals escaping or running amok, sometimes causing property damage, injury, or even death.

To date, five states and more than 135 municipalities have passed laws to address the cruel treatment of circus animals or to ban exotic animal acts entirely. On May 27, Cincinnati became one of the latest to do so when it passed an ordinance prohibiting the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses. AWI had submitted testimony in support of the ordinance. The Circus Cruelty Prevention Act (SB 313), a bill to ban the use of wild or exotic animals in circuses, passed the California Senate on May 20 and is now awaiting action in the state Assembly.

Please contact your representative via email or letter and ask him or her to cosponsor TEAPSPA (postal address: The Honorable [first and last name], US House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515). Visit AWI’s Compassion Index at for additional contact information and to take action on other important animal welfare bills.

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