Westchester lawmakers seek ban on wild animals at circus
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Westchester lawmakers seek ban on wild animals at circus

FROM Lohud.com

July 16, 2018

Circuses with wild animals would be banned from Westchester County under a new bill that’ll be considered by lawmakers.

County legislators Mary Jane Shimsky and Margaret Cunzio are sponsoring the ban on wild animals used for “displays and performances of all kinds for a live audience,” including rides, trade shows, petting zoos, carnivals and races.

“Exotic and wild animals used in traveling performances suffer severe and extended confinement, and, deprived of natural movements and behaviors, are prone to chronic stress, behavioral, health, and psychological problems,” stated a memo on the bill from Shimsky, a Hastings-on-Hudson Democrat, and Cunzio, a Mount Pleasant Conservative Party member.

New York City banned wild animals in a bill signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio last year.

Kiley Blackman, of the group Animal Defenders of Westchester, said she was cautiously optimistic but would like to see the language of a bill to make sure it specifically prohibits certain animals. Westchester's bill has yet to be drafted.

Blackman said she hoped the Board of Legislators would “see the wisdom” of a ban.

“It’s very, very good news,” Blackman said. “I’m glad they’re proceeding. Whatever we can do to help, we’re going to do, of course.”

The law will be referred to legislative committees for discussion and would be voted out of committee before coming to a full vote of county lawmakers.

Animal-rights activists have for years criticized the conditions faced by animals used in traveling performances. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus eliminated its elephant act in 2016 after scrutiny. The circus closed permanently in 2017.

A statewide ban on the use of elephants in entertainment acts was approved last year, but won’t go into effect until 2019. The elephant law was sponsored by two Westchester lawmakers, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, and state Sen. Terrence Murphy, R-Yorktown.

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