Bolivia Bans Animal Circuses

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Bolivia Bans Animal Circuses

From Vegetarian and Vegan Society of Queensland
May 2009

Animal Defenders International (ADI) is delighted that a ban on the use of animals in circuses is within reach in Bolivia. A bill proposing a ban was passed in the Plenary of the Bolivian Senate yesterday.

The Bill, tabled by Congresswoman Ximena Flores, representative of the Department of Potosi, was previously approved by Plenary of the Chamber of Deputies and the Commission of Sustainable Development in the Senate.

The Bill will be presented to President Evo Morales for signature, to become law.

The launch of Stop Circus Suffering campaign in Bolivia uncovered a disturbing insight behind the scenes of Bolivia's circus industry.

ADI's field officers worked undercover in the circuses and observed:

  • Lions confined in a tiny cage on the back of a truck - the adults left the cage for just ten minutes each day to perform for the show. A lion cub remained permanently in the cage. During the show, the animals were forced to jump through a ring of fire. Two of the lionesses were pregnant, but continued to perform.
  • Three brown bears were kept in three compartments of a beastwagon, each measuring approx 2.5 x 3m. Their only exercise was the walk to and from the ring for their short performance. The same bear act had previously been with a circus in Peru. There was no safety barrier between the audience and the three brown bears which were made to dance, play dead and ride a bicycle.
  •  A mandrill kept in a small wire mesh cage - approx 1.5 x 1.5m.

The Bolivian public was horrified by the conditions the animals were forced to endure. A year after the launch of the investigation, several municipalities introduced animals circus bans in El Alto, La Paz, Santa Cruz, Tiquipaya and Cochabamba. In May 2008, these bans faced a major test when a Las Vegas, USA, based magic show featuring big cats, The Fercos Brothers, planned to appear. ADI and local animal protection groups worked together to uphold the bans and succeeded.

The recently approved Bill will be returned to the Chamber of Deputies for the approval of any amendments made by the Senate. After that it ill be remitted to President Evo Morales to receive Presidential assent. ADI will continue lobbying intensely to ensure that this piece of legislation is passed.

ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, "These moves in Bolivia sets an essential precedent for South America, demonstrating that legislation to put an end to circus suffering is possible. The Bolivian Congress has set the highest positive example for South America, which the rest of the world now needs to follow. We salute the efforts of all the local organizations and Congresswoman Flores who along with ADI did not rest until they made sure that the Senate approved the Bill."

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